So, from the front page article in the Nov. 25 Daily Item, it appears many of our Harrisburg politicians are now very upset and angry at PennDOT for not giving them more warning about running out of money for road and bridge projects by Dec. 1.
Really?!! Seriously?!! I wasn’t. Even I knew this was coming. I have been writing letters to the editor of this newspaper since 2017, letting everyone know this was coming.
When our politicians passed the largest gasoline tax increase in the nation (Act 89) back in 2013, they thought they had solved this problem. However, politicians being politicians, they quickly decided to spend this windfall on other pressing problems rather than on our roads and bridges for which it was intended.
One of their favorite destinations for this money was our Pennsylvania State Police — so much so, that by 2019, transfers from the Motor License Fund to the PSP have totaled more than $4.25 billion since the 2012-13 fiscal year.
With the blessing of our Harrisburg politicians, annual transfers to the PSP were $500 million in 2012-2013, $802.9 million in 2016-2017, $789.5 million in 2017-2018, and $738 million in 2018-2019.
In all fairness to our legislators, in 2016, they did place a cap on these transfers, limiting them to $802 million a year, however, only calling for meager decreases of 4% annually until they reach $500 million.
Now, however, as the old expression goes, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray. Our COVID pandemic has highlighted the folly of this practice, with gas revenues declining, and corresponding gas taxes likewise declining, there’s little money left for PennDOT to now complete their construction projects because any would-be reserves have long since been transferred to the PSP.
And the biggest problem at the PSP generating this constant need for money — their Cadillac, defined benefit pension plan. While almost every company in the private sector having long ago switched to a 401K type pension plan, our legislators continue to feel this state can afford this luxury for the PSP.
Time to stop just kicking the can down the road, Harrisburg, and admit we can’t. Your days of robbing Peter to pay Paul are over. Time now to solve the real problem here rather than just hide the symptoms.