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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2016 03:28 PM
From: Representative Brad Roae
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation to Increase the Fire/EMS Grant Program

In the near future, I will introduce legislation that will increase The Fire Company, Emergency Services Grant Program from the current $25 million in funding to $50 million in funding. All volunteer fire departments and all career fire departments in PA currently get about $10,000 a year each on average and that would grow to about $20,000. For EMS agencies, funding would increase from an average of $5,000 to $10,000.

As you are all aware, a recent court ruling determined that the minimum $10 million per casino local share casino tax was unconstitutional. Because there are one dozen casinos and there had been a $10 million local tax on each casino, that equals a loss of $120 million in local funding for the 12 counties that have casinos.

My legislation would require that if a new local share casino tax is enacted, the first $2,083,333 from each of the 12 casinos would go directly into the account that funds The Fire Company, Emergency Services Grant Program for use in all 67 counties in PA. The new local share casino tax would end up being about $8 million a year for local use after the $2 million is sent for the statewide grant program. This had been $10 million a year but it is now zero a year due to the court decision.

Without non-casino counties getting any of the funding, it is hard to imagine we would get enough votes to pass legislation that only helps those 12 counties. This legislation would help our constituents in all 67 counties and restore the local share for the 12 counties that host casinos.

It does not seem to be a viable plan to only allow 12 counties to keep all of the money. Equal distribution of 100% to all 67 counties when 12 counties have grown dependent in the funding is not a viable plan either. The compromise position would allow the 12 counties to keep $95 million of the $120 million that they are accustomed to receiving but also distribute $25 million statewide to help all PA residents by doubling grants to fire and EMS agencies.

I would greatly appreciate your support of this legislation. Thank you for your consideration.