Should he win re-election in November, Gov. Andy Beshear outlined his budget plan for the next two years, which includes more funding to support law enforcement officers and boost public safety during a Capitol press conference on Wednesday.
He explained why he is taking the unusual step of an early start. “During the last budget process, the House, for the first time certainly in our history, filed a executive branch budget before the recommendation from the Governor, which is supposed to start the process under state law.”
His proposal includes:
- Moving all statewide law enforcement pension plans back to defined pension benefits (State Police, County Employees-Hazardous, Kentucky Employees-Hazardous), increasing pension income for retired Kentucky State Police troopers and local jurisdictions in those pension plans.
- Boosting pay for law enforcement with an additional $2,500 raise for troopers, vehicle enforcement officers and a few other job classes. This builds on the $15,000 per year hike the Governor signed into law in 2022, the 6.5% salary bump these employees received July 1, 2023, and a $300 increase in the training incentive stipend. If passed, this proposal adds to efforts from the past two years, which resulted in at least a $18,875 increase.
- Support for training for local law enforcement officers by raising the current training stipend to $4,800, on top of the $300 increase in the current budget.
- Support for part-time local law enforcement officers by also making them eligible for the training stipend, as they are required to meet the same training requirements as full-time officers.
- Providing grant funding to upgrade body armor to protect local law enforcement officers.
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“With a historic budget surplus,” Beshear said, “there is no excuse not to provide the help that is needed, the best equipment to all law enforcement, because heroes like these deserve the best wages, the best benefits, the best training, and that is exactly what my budget proposal will do.”
He said recent pay raises are having the desired effect on the KSP’s strength. “When our next class graduates on Friday, sworn troopers will be around 940, the most since 2006. Our next KSP class has received more than 700 applications, the highest number since 2017 when we changed eligibility requirements. Raises work.”
Beshear says he will be having similar press conferences on other budget topics over the next month.
His Republican opponent in the November election, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, released his crime-fighting plan last month.