The Department of Public Safety has become the focus of several money talks this year. There's a lot of support for a trooper school but it's not signed, sealed and delivered yet.
With the ball in the Senate's court on the trooper school, we wanted to know if money management concerns will jeopardize the chance of new funding. Senators say no.
"You really have two different issues there," explained Senator Buck Clarke, appropriations committee chairman. "The trooper school is dealing with the manpower needs of the highway patrol. And we all recognize that they need some more manpower."
Senator Terry Burton agrees.
"We need to take as much off of them as we can," said Burton. "As much worry away from them as we can. The management on the fifth floor of the DPS building has nothing to do with the troopers out there on the road."
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves has been critical of the department's leadership. He says the money's not making it down to the troopers. Senator Brice Wiggins shares those concerns. More than $460,000 dollars was allocated this budget year for pay raises.
"Dollars to go towards step raises that apparently did not go to the officers on the ground," Wiggins said. "I think everybody in the legislature is most concerned about the troopers on the ground."
The House passed an appropriations bill Monday that includes $6.9 million for the trooper school. That's missing from the Senate version.
"Let's just say it's high on everybody's list," described Sen. Clarke. "And we just haven't put it in our appropriations bill yet. But it'll be one of the first things we talk about."
When the Senate presented its teacher pay plan, the Lt. Governor said it would mean other budget sacrifices. Senator Burton doesn't think public safety will be one of them.
"It's high enough on the priority list, we totally understand," Burton explained. "The trooper school itself is not going to be at risk because of anything we have done or not done."
They'll talk dollar details in the coming days in a conference committee that's made up of three members from the House and three from the Senate.
Bottom line, it doesn't seem like management issues will jeopardize the future of a new trooper school.
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