Kentucky Politics

Investments in public safety are a priority for Gov. Andy Beshear as he offered another preview of his budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year. 

Kentucky State Police was one of the main beneficiaries of possible funding and a top concern for the governor. 

“The Kentucky State Police is experiencing an unprecedented shortage of troopers. They’re at their lowest number in over 30 years,” Beshear said. “That creates a public safety crisis.”

To address the staffing shortage and aid with retention and recruitment efforts, Beshear’s budget proposal allocates a $15,000 pay increase to state troopers. 

Beshear’s proposal also includes money that would go toward technological improvements for KSP, including body cameras and updating the existing statewide emergency radio communications network.

“We have places that we ask our state police to go to protect our people where they cannot communicate with the outside world,” Beshear said.

According to Beshear, KSP troopers cannot call for help in some areas because the current system is at the end of its life cycle. 

Beyond troopers, telecommunication workers at KSP also received attention in Beshear’s budget with a suggested $8,000 pay increase.

Local state law enforcement officers and firefighters were also included in the budget proposal with increases to the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund (KLEFPF) for higher stipends.

State prosecutors would see an increase in funds dedicated to increasing the number of positions within the Commonwealth Attorney’s and County Attorney’s offices.

“These investments will advance victim services, including the implementation of Marsy’s Law as well as address case backlogs and additional workload due to recent legislative changes,” Beshear said.

At the corrections level, Beshear included investments to both adult and juvenile facilities to address the current staffing shortages.

“We are providing funding for additional 25 probation and parole officers,” Beshear said.

Correctional facility buildings would also see investments under Beshear’s budget.

“We’re investing in the expansion of the Little Sandy Correctional Complex, with a separate $170 million project to construct the correctional system’s statewide medical facility,” Beshear said. “That is to move the medical facility from the Kentucky State Reformatory, which I believe is in the worst shape of any of the facilities and does not have much left on its life, to another location.”

The governor will give his budget address in full Thursday night to a smaller than normal group of legislators due to COVID-19 concerns. 

Breya Jones is the Breaking News Reporter for WFPL.