Ky. governor wants $15K pay raises for state police
Gov. Andy Beshear said he hopes the budget proposal will make a "real difference"
By John Cheves
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday that his next two-year state budget request will include big pay raises for Kentucky State Police troopers and dispatchers, both of whom need their ranks replenished.
Beshear is proposing a $15,000 raise in the starting salary of troopers, bumping them up to $55,000 a year, and an $8,000 raise in the starting salaries for dispatchers, taking them up to $32,000. Current KSP troopers and dispatchers also would get a raise.
KSP pay has not kept pace with what other employers offer, and so the state police struggles with vacancies that it cannot fill, Beshear said. Currently, KSP has 736 full-time sworn troopers and officers, which is 273 fewer than it did in 2006, his office said in a statement. Dispatchers are averaging an annual turnover rate of nearly 23 percent.
"These pay increases will, I believe, make a real difference," Beshear said at a Frankfort news conference. "Both KSP troopers and dispatchers deserve the respect and the stability that comes from competitive wages. And none of them should have to have a second jobs, with what they do for us, to provide for their family."
However, for the Democratic governor's plan to become a reality, the Republican-controlled legislature must approve when it rewrites and adopts his budget recommendation this winter. Over the previous two years, GOP lawmakers have opposed Beshear's requests to give pay raises to state workers and school teachers.
One big difference this time is that Kentucky closed the last fiscal year June 30 with a $1.1 billion "rainy day" budget reserve trust fund that some estimate could top $3 billion by next summer, thanks in large part to federal pandemic aid that rolled in while the state passed conservative, back-to-back status quo budgets.
Also Tuesday, Beshear said he will ask for $12.2 million in the state budget to purchase video recording systems for state police, for the "transparency and accountability of our law enforcement." Up to 650 troopers would get body cameras and in-vehicle cameras to capture video of incidents from multiple vantage points, he said.
(c)2021 the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)