State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Lawmakers balk at municipal police fees, voice conflicting complaints

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 23, 2017 9:11 PM
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Governor Tom Wolf wants to charge municipalities that don't have their own police forces $25 per person for state police coverage. (Photo by AP)

(Harrisburg) -- The state police are facing a shortage of funding and shrinking ranks as a slew of troopers come up on retirement age.

Governor Tom Wolf has proposed a $25 per-person fee for municipalities that rely on state police coverage, which he's estimated would pump an estimated $63 million into the agency.

But lots of lawmakers are making their gripes about the measure apparent. State Police Commissioner Tyree Blocker and other ranking troopers took a barrage of questions from lawmakers during a more than two-hour Senate hearing on their budget for the next fiscal year.

Blocker made his position clear--the agency needs money and he doesn't care where it comes from.

"I have full faith and confidence with Governor Wolf working in conjunction with the legislature to provide the necessary resources for state police funding," he said after the hearing.

Right now, it sets state police back $234 per-person to cover municipalities without their own departments, so Wolf's fee is moderate in comparison.

But the Senate panel raised several--sometimes conflicting--concerns about the $25 levy.

Some said it's unfair for small communities that already pay taxes that go to police.

Others argued it might be too good a deal, and could prompt more towns to get rid of their own police departments to save money.

Allegheny County Republican Randy Vulakovich said he's not a fan of the plan, calling it "the wrong approach."

"Under the circumstances with the budget deficits, we have to be very careful about what we do," he added.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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