HARRISBURG – Rep. Tim Hennessey (R-Chester/Montgomery), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, challenged Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s recent announcement lamenting that the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) received billions of dollars over the years from the Motor License Fund for providing safety as part of its mission.
“Of course we use some Motor License Funds to pay for highway safety – that is a proper and justifiable expenditure,” said Hennessey. “The Pennsylvania Constitution states that the Motor License Fund may be used for safety on public highways and bridges. We have followed that mandate, and Pennsylvania has been funding PSP at least in part from the Motor License Fund for more than 50 years.
“The Motor License Fund has taken in $34 billion over the period studied by the auditor general. The overwhelming majority of those funds – 88% – have been allocated to highway and bridge construction, maintenance and improvements. PennDOT spends more than $6 billion annually on highways and bridges. There is nothing new here.”
“I don’t know why the auditor general would singularly attack the Legislature for giving Motor License Funds to the PSP. It is not solely our decision. The governor proposes the funding in his annual budget address. The Legislature reviews this and similar requests and then sets the level of Motor License Fund funds directed to PSP, and the governor signs it.”
The Legislature recognizes that PSP plays a substantial role in protecting the traveling public by patrolling the state’s highways, so payments from the Motor License Fund are totally warranted and clearly legal.
“Perhaps the auditor general meant to question ‘how much’ we, as a state, should be paying the PSP,” said Hennessey. “That is a legitimate concern, but it is also an issue the Legislature addressed three years ago in Act 85 of 2016. Earlier budgets had allowed the PSP funding from the Motor License Fund to grow too much, and in Act 85 we scaled back the yearly payments substantially. Guided by a Legislative Budget and Finance Committee study, we have reduced PSP payments each year, and it will soon be capped at $500 million for future years.
“Everyone recognizes that our roads and bridges need to be kept in good repair, and that they need to be patrolled and kept safe for the traveling public. If we devoted all Motor License Fund money for repairs, as the Auditor General is suggesting, we would have to find some other way to fund the PSP. There is only so much money to go around and we do not want to raise taxes,” he said.
Representative Tim Hennessey
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Rick Leiner
717.260.6437 (office), 717.497.8478 (cell)