The Department of Legislative Services (DLS), the staff agency charged with analyzing and recommending changes and cuts to the Executive Branch budget, has recommended that the General Assembly reduce police aid funding to county and municipal governments by more than $25 million.
The recommendation is embedded in the DLS analysis of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP), which oversees State Aid for Police Protection. During their presentation to the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Public Safety and Administration today, the DLS analyst did not indicate any particular issue with the program’s effectiveness, only “to constrain growth in general fund expenditures.” Following questions from Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh, the analyst also indicated the $25 million amount could be interpreted as an offset or reaction to the $25 million supplemental budget proposed to support locally-maintained roads and bridges through Highway User Revenues.
GOCCP Executive Director Christopher Shank indicated his opposition to the proposed $25 million cutback, citing the importance of local law enforcement. “That would decimate our local law enforcement, it would hamper their ability to fight crime, they would not be able to make that up,” he said during the agency response to the recommendation. Referencing data from the same analysis on successful drops in crime across the state, he continued, “…we are enjoying the dividends of this investment, and we would not want to give that up.” Chairman McIntosh directly thanked Mr. Shank for his response on police aid, in addition to other topics.
DLS also recommended that the funding freeze already included in the Governor’s budget be apportioned based on the total amount allocated for FY 2016. Reallocating that roughly $3 million in cutbacks would readjust the allocations to each jurisdiction, though the county-by-county effects are not displayed in the analysis.