Cost for full-time State Police coverage tabbed at $600 million annually
As the Wolf administration and lawmakers grapple with the State Police funding issue, data are beginning to illuminate the discussion.
First, we know that about half of Pennsylvania’s 2,562 municipalities do not have local or regional police coverage, relying instead on the State Police. Another 400-plus municipalities have part-time local police coverage and rely on State Police the rest of the time.
Last week, State Police Commissioner Tyree Blocker told a Senate budget panel that it costs $600 million per year for his agency to provide full-time coverage to the nearly 1,300 municipalities that need it. Those municipalities are home to about 2.5 million Pennsylvanians.
Governor Wolf has proposed charging a $25 per resident fee in municipalities that rely strictly on the State Police. That approach would raise $63 million per year, to be restored to the Motor License Fund and used for highway projects instead of State Police operations, reducing the Motor License Fund’s support to $739 million.
On a per capita basis, Colonel Blocker’s analysis sets the full cost of full-time state police coverage at $234 annually in municipalities without other police coverage.
“PHIA does not have a position on how best to reduce the amount of transportation revenue that has been diverted from the Motor License Fund,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “We understand that there are concerns with just about any way you choose to do it.
“But PHIA does stand for assuring that the Motor License Fund remains constitutionally protected, and that the revenue that flows into it – essentially from those who use those assets – is spent on its intended purpose. We don’t believe that has been the case, especially in recent years.”
In the coming weeks, the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee is expected to release its analysis of the appropriate level of support from the Motor License Fund for highway patrols.