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Plan for PA roads and state police

The Pennsylvania General Assembly and Gov. Tom Wolf have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help fix our deteriorating roads and bridges while also solving the funding dilemma of the Pennsylvania State Police.

The plan is so simple, and makes so much sense, that it almost surely won’t happen.

Wolf and the General Assembly should use a portion of the $7 billion federal COVID stimulus money to support the state police budget for two years.

Currently $700 million — that’s $700 million — is diverted from state road construction each year to backfill our state police budget (via transfers from the Motor License Fund).

Properly funding our state police for two years from the surplus federal stimulus money would provide a much-needed jolt to improving our roads and bridges.

Every time you go to the gas pump, 11 cents per gallon of the state gas tax is diverted from transportation funds to help pay for the state police.

Unfortunately, the state police don’t have a say in how their budget is funded.

Those decisions have been made by politicians over the years who came up with the idea to reroute transportation dollars to pay for a portion of their budget. This plan would solve a problem that has plagued the commonwealth for years: Using revenue intended for transportation and instead using it to pay for nontransportation uses, namely the state police.

When people complain about their roads, the diversion of dedicated transportation funds from road and bridge construction plays a huge role.

Billions of transportation dollars have been diverted since the early 2000s.

Today, PennDOT’s construction budget has fallen to its lowest level in 15 years. Using the American Rescue funds to fully fund the state police solves this problem.

It’s a no-brainer, and most Pennsylvanians agree. A recent poll conducted for the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors found that by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1, voters support using transportation funds to pay for road and bridge projects and freeing state police from transportation budget dollars.

Further, not only would an additional $700 million per year dramatically improve daily commutes for residents and help move goods and services, it would also support more than 9,000 well-paying highway construction jobs.

It’s time for the General Assembly to act. It’s time to properly maintain our roads, fully fund the state police, and help put people back to work.

Many organizations are lining up for these surplus COVID federal funds. Using a portion for transportation funding provides a real, tangible, long-lasting improvement in return.

Scott Grannas is the president of Grannas Bros. in Hollidaysburg, president of PA Asphalt Paving Association and treasurer of Associated PA Constructors.

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