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Beshear proposes expanded Ky. public safety budget, including a raise for state troopers

Hannah Saad

Democratic Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear presented a proposed budget plan Wednesday to support law enforcement officers and promote public safety.

Beshear’s proposal includes giving $2,500 raises to Kentucky State Police troopers, increasing training stipends for local law enforcement and expanding training stipends to part-time officers, moving all law enforcement officers across the state to a defined benefit pension plan and providing grant funding to local agencies to upgrade body armor for its forces.

Noting the Commonwealth’s record surplus it recorded in Fiscal Year 2023, Beshear proposed putting some of those funds toward better compensating and equipping Kentucky’s law enforcement officers.

“With a historic budget surplus, there is no excuse not to provide the help that is needed, the best equipment to all law enforcement,” Beshear said. “Heroes like these deserve the best wages, the best benefits, [and] the best training.”

KSP commissioner Phillip Burnett credited Beshear and the Republican-majority General Assembly for “historic” pay increases that he said led to growing its ranks to one of the highest levels the agency has seen in the last two decades. Last year, Beshear signed legislation giving state troopers a $15,000 pay increase and raising starting salaries from just under $38,000 to nearly $56,000.

Burnett said these raises – in addition to Beshear’s proposed additional raises and pension plan – would help KSP continue to grow, recruit talent and support local agencies and communities across the state. The commissioner also said it’s important to keep KSP wages competitive with other law enforcement agencies, as well as the private sector.

“We feel all that will do will bolster our retention, keep our experienced troopers, and also increase our high-quality applicants well into the future,” Burnett said.

In response to Beshear’s proposal, GOP gubernatorial challenger Daniel Cameron issued a statement criticizing the Democratic governor for commuting the sentences of over 1,700 inmates in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cameron announced his own public safety plan last month that he hopes to enact, if elected. Part of the sitting Republican Kentucky attorney general’s 12-step plan includes developing a $5,000 recruitment and retention bonus for law enforcement officers, passing a law mandating prosecutors to pursue the death penalty for those convicted of killing police officers and blocking civilian review boards from getting subpoena powers.

Beshear and Cameron have made public safety a cornerstone of their respective gubernatorial campaigns ahead of the Nov. 7 election.

Hannah Saad is the Assistant News Director for WKMS. Originally from Michigan, Hannah earned her bachelor’s degree in news media from The University of Alabama in 2021. Hannah moved to western Kentucky in the summer of 2021 to start the next chapter of her life after graduation. Prior to joining WKMS in March 2023, Hannah was a news reporter at The Paducah Sun. Her goal at WKMS is to share the stories of the region from those who call it home. Outside of work, Hannah enjoys exploring local restaurants, sports photography, painting, and spending time with her fiancé and two dogs.
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