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July 01, 2016

Pennsylvania Troopers Association wants more funding for new cadets in state budget

Union president predicts statewide police force could be significantly undermanned in three years

Pennsylvania's lawmakers passed a main budget bill on Thursday, just before the start of the new fiscal year, but that is not to say everyone is happy, particularly the union representing the Pennsylvania State Police troopers.

Pennsylvania is fresh off the ordeal of the 2015 state budget – which finally passed in March, nine months late and without Gov. Tom Wolf's signature. So getting the 2016 spending plan to the governor hours before the deadline would seem like an accomplishment at first glance.

But the Pennsylvania Troopers Association is concerned that the 2016 budget bill only includes enough funding to train and hire about 180 new troopers.

Union president Joe Kovel, told Newsworks:

"(In) the next three years, we expect 2,000 members of our department to become retirement eligible. It's simple mathematics. If you're only looking to put in cadet classes totaling 180 in a fiscal year, we're about 1,500 behind after three years."

Kovel said the state police are already 340 troopers below capacity, and it costs about $10 million per 100 cadets trained.

Pennsylvania's 2016 budget bill includes more than $31.5 billion in spending, with $200 million more for public education funding and more money to address Pennsylvania's grow opioid problem.

State police funding is not the only problem, critics have noted the bill would require the state to raise $1 billion in revenue, and there are no details how that will be done.

Wolf has 10 days to sign the bill. The Associated Press reported the governor is generally supportive of the plan but would not sign it without a means to generate the revenue to fund it.