Make them pay
Even if the Legislature approves the governor's proposal to generate $1.8 billion a year in revenue for the state's fractured highways, bridges and mass transit, that still will be $700 million a year short of what Mr. Corbett's own study commission on transportation has deemed necessary to ensure public safety and economic vitality.
Fortunately, there is a policy intersection that can be used to bring about the actual improvements of more highway intersections.
Even as the state government scrapes for more transportation money, it continues to spend nearly $600 million a year from the motor license fund to pay for state police coverage for towns statewide that have chosen not to pay for their own police forces.
That is fundamentally unfair. If you live in a town that pays for its own police protection, like most towns in Bradford County, you as a taxpayer pay for that and for state police coverage in towns that have decided to forgo their own coverage.
Such communities cover about 21 percent of the state's population. Most of them are rural townships, but included are some rather larger communities with populations of up to 40,000.
Lawmakers finally should get serious about requiring local governments to provide for their own police coverage, by mandating it. Doing so would have ancillary positive results, beyond freeing state police for their more appropriate duties. Since many of the townships claim they can't afford their own coverage, the mandate would force them to join with other local governments in forming regional police departments, to merge with other local governments, or at least to pay neighboring towns for common coverage.
City governments across Pennsylvania are struggling mightily to provide services. Perhaps they should suspend police departments and let the state government worry about it. That, of course, would be irresponsible, just as it is for other governments that choose that course. The Legislature should not allow it, and should use the money dedicated to it to help get the state's transportation infrastructure back in shape.