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Shapiro visits Pa. State Police Academy to tout new funding proposal

Since 1969 PSP has received a majority of its funding from the Motor License Fund, which in turn gets most of its funding from PennDOT.

HERSHEY, Pa. — One day after giving his first budget address, Gov. Josh Shapiro visited the Pennsylvania State Police Academy. The event was a chance to highlight his proposed budget’s plan to better fund State Police.

Since 1969 PSP has received a majority of its funding from the Motor License Fund, which in turn gets most of its funding from PennDOT.

After the amount the fund contributed to PSP’s budget had ballooned to $800 million in the 2016-2017 cycle, lawmakers passed a law capping the amount by less each year. After 10 years, the amount would be capped at $500 million a year.

In the 2021-2022 cycle PSP had a budget of $1.4 billion, 36% of which came from the Motor License Fund, according to data from the House Appropriations Committee.

In his budget address, Shapiro said the hundreds of millions of dollars should not be diverted from its intended use in infrastructure.

His budget proposal would instead create a separate fund for PSP, called the Public Safety and Protection Fund. The fund would wean its reliance off the Motor License Fund by $100 million a year for five years.

The proposal was applauded by PSP leadership.

“We maintain a really close and good working relationship with PennDOT but to not compete for those motor license fund dollars and to have a dedicated funding source really takes a huge weight off the agency,” said Christopher Paris, who found out he had been confirmed as PSP Commissioner while speaking to reporters at a press conference.

The additional money needed to fund PSP will come from the General Fund, which currently has a $6.7 billion surplus.

“We can make important investments for tomorrow, weather any economic storms and still be in a strong financial position,” Shapiro said.

The proposed budget also calls for an incentive to recruit more police officers. Pennsylvania is short 1,200 municipal police officers. Pennsylvania State Police are struggling to fill about 300 positions that open up each year as older troopers retire, according to Pa. State Trooper Association president David Kennedy.

People who become police officers or state troopers in Pennsylvania would receive a $2,500 tax break for three years under the proposed budget.

“Any new idea that can help encourage people is a start. We have to start somewhere,” Kennedy said.

Republican lawmakers praised the proposal to increase funding for State Police. However, they have signaled they don’t want to dip into the General Fund surplus or Rainy Day Fund to pay for it.

A final budget must be signed by July 1.

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