Schwank introduces bill for funding PSP coverage of municipalities

A state senator from Berks County is taking another go at a bill to provide equitable Pennsylvania State Police coverage to municipalities without their own department.

Sen. Judy Schwank said Senate Bill 382 would offset funds the state provides to municipalities from motor license revenue in the same amount as the value of the state police coverage to any municipality with a population of 5,000 or more.

"My bill would amend the Liquid Fuels Tax Municipal Allocation Law to reduce motor license payments to affected municipalities in a direct dollar-for-dollar relation to the costs to provide state police coverage," said Schwank, a Democrat.

Schwank provided an example that, if state police determined the per capita statewide coverage cost is $70, a municipality with a population of 5,000 that relies on state police for primary coverage would see its liquid fuels funding reduced by $350,000.

The offset, she said, would remain in the motor license fund, where it could then be used to cover state police operations.

Schwank's proposal comes a week after Gov. Tom Wolf introduced his 2017-2018 budget proposal, in which he called for the assessment of a $25 fee for every person living in a municipality without local police coverage.

Sixty-seven percent of Pennsylvania's 2,561 municipalities rely to some degree on the state police to provide local police support, according to the governor.

Schwank's bill is a reintroduction of Senate Bill 841, which she introduced in the 2013-2014 session. The bill was referred to the Senate's Law and Justice Committee, but it was never acted on.

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