Pennsylvania Senate panel votes to quicken shifting funds to roads

June 10, 2021

Keith Goble

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A Pennsylvania Senate panel has taken the first step toward accelerating the gradual shift of money from state troopers to roads.

For years, money from the state’s motor license fund was transferred for state police operations. The amount reached three-quarters of a billion dollars by the 2016 budget year, according to state figures.

As a result, money that was intended for essential road and bridge work was instead being used to cover trooper expenses.

A 2016 Pennsylvania law applied the brakes on the transfers. Instead, a process was implemented to gradually reduce the amount of money routed from roads and bridges to the state police.

Specifically, funding from the motor license fund to troopers was capped at $800 million with a schedule to decrease that amount to $500 million over the next decade.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to advance a bill to speed up the time frame for reducing the diversions.

Sponsored by Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, SB242 would tap the state’s general fund to cover the difference.

“This bill simply accelerates the transition we began in 2016 to bring the state police out of the motor license fund and into the general fund budget where they belong,” Pittman said during a bill hearing.

If this bill is enacted, it will provide an additional $100 million in the upcoming fiscal year for our highway and bridge network, and accelerate that through fiscal year 2027-28.”

He added that the change would bring the $500 million goal set by the Transportation Funding Reform Commission to be the proper number to fund the state police through the motor license fund.

“I believe now is the time to accelerate the shift to funding the state police through the general fund and to use the (motor license fund) for its intended purpose – to improve the condition and safety of our highways and bridges,” Pittman stated.

SB242 awaits clearance from the Senate Appropriations Committee before it heads to the full Senate. LL

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.