Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers are not pleased with the new budget deal released by the Oklahoma Legislature, Thursday.
The President of the Oklahoma State Troopers Association says he is disappointed in the lack of a salary increase for state troopers.
The budget deal for the news fiscal year, beginning on July 1, increases spending over a quarter-million dollars more than the 2013 fiscal budget. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders revealed the new budget Thursday afternoon.
The $7.1 billion budget includes increases in funding for health care, infrastructure and education.
OSTA president and OHP trooper Keith Barenberg released the following statement regarding the new budget:
"The decision by the governor and legislative leaders to bypass a much-needed compensation increase for FY-2014 has members of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol extremely disappointed and feeling underappreciated, especially given the fact the legislation passed both chambers of the legislature without a single no vote."
"OHP troopers have the 2nd lowest average salary among Oklahoma's six bordering states and our training academies simply do not produce enough quality cadets to offset those lost to higher salaried law enforcement positions, the private sector and retirement."
"OHP is already at a 20-year low in the number of troopers serving our 77 counties resulting in troopers patrolling multiple counties alone which is extremely dangerous and increases response time. There are certainly many needs across Oklahoma, however public safety is one of the core functions of state government."
"Despite this very perplexing decision, the professional men and women of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol will continue to work 24 hours-per-day to ensure the citizens of Oklahoma and visitors to our state are protected."
The measure still must be drafted into a bill, approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature and sent to the governor.
The budget includes a $74 million, or 3.2 percent, increase in funding for public schools and an additional $17 million for the current fiscal year to help pay for teacher health benefits.