|Posted:||February 8, 2017 09:31 AM|
|From:||Representative P. Michael Sturla|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||State Police Municipal Patrol Services Act|
|In the near future, I plan to reintroduce legislation to address the inequities of Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and patrols. My bill (former H.B. 709 of 2015), the State Police Municipal Patrol Services Act, would require municipalities relying on PSP for part-time and full-time coverage to pay a fee for those services.
In Pennsylvania, 20% of the state’s population lives in municipalities with no local full-time police coverage. Another 6% of the population live in municipalities that have only a part-time police force. In these instances, PSP adds these municipalities to its routine patrols, ensuring the municipalities have law enforcement coverage. Although it is true that all Pennsylvania residents help pay for PSP through state taxes, to the 74% of Pennsylvanians who also pay for their own local full-time police coverage this is double taxation because they are essentially subsidizing “free” police protection for the rest of the population.
While it is important to ensure every citizen’s safety, covering these municipalities has placed an extreme strain on PSPs already stretched resources. In fact, about half of PSP’s budget is spent providing patrols for these municipalities. Thus, in an effort to adequately fund PSP’s rising costs, the General Assembly has resorted to transferring hundreds of millions of dollars annually to PSP from the Motor License Fund—a fund that is constitutionally restricted to pay only for transportation-related projects, such as road maintenance. As a result of funding PSP through the Motor License fund, each legislative district is losing out on millions of dollars in transportation funding each year.
Fortunately, the General Assembly has recognized the importance of protecting our Motor License Fund. Last year, the Fiscal Code was amended to cap the amount PSP can receive annually from the Motor License fund, reducing the department’s share from $800 million to $500 million over a 10-year period. Although this move was a necessary step to protect transportation funding, PSP is now going to need a new funding source to continue its important work.
As a funding solution, my legislation would have municipalities with full-time or part-time PSP coverage pay a fee to cover those services. My proposal would have the annual overall fee charged to municipalities correlate with Section 1798.2E of the Fiscal Code to close the gap in funding PSP will no longer be receiving from the Motor License fund. Municipalities that receive part-time PSP services would be charged a rate 1/3 of what municipalities receiving full-time PSP patrol services are charged. Any municipality opting to implement their own local police force or join their neighboring municipalities and create a regional police force will no longer have to pay a fee.
Additionally, my bill would create a $20 million fund for PSP to use for new cadet training. Recent projections are that the State Police could face a shortage of anywhere from 435 to 1,000 troopers in the near future. The bill would also create another $20 million to help pay the cost of those communities choosing to form a regional police department.
My legislation is not an attempt to simply generate revenue. My goal is to efficiently spend each tax dollar, simultaneously create hundreds of millions of dollars for new roads and bridges, put Pennsylvanians to work, and provide an incentive for local municipalities to pay for their police protection like the majority of Pennsylvanians do by creating their own police force, or joining with surrounding municipalities and instituting a regional police department. Local and regional police forces are the best and quickest way to protect our families and keep our streets safe. Municipalities should work in conjunction with the PSP- not rely on them to provide primary protection for their residents.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.
Introduced as HB959