Today Only

For every donation received by 11:59 p.m. WHYY will provide a meal to someone in need in our region through Philabundance.

Double your impact

    Pennsylvania lawmakers balk at higher municipal police fees

    Lawmakers have returned to the Pennsylvania state Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo, File)

    Lawmakers have returned to the Pennsylvania state Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo, File)

    The Pennsylvania 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 state Senate panel raised several — sometimes conflicting — concerns about the $25 levy.

    Some said it’s unfair for small Pennsylvania 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.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.