There are a number of proposals filed for the regular session to increase state supplemental pay for firefighters and police officers. It’s a boost lawmakers haven’t implemented since the early 2000s, so the reaction from these communities could send hundreds in full uniform to lobby the Legislature, which would in turn put lawmakers in a tight spot.
Saying no to a bureaucrat is one thing. Denying your neighborhood police officer is another.
“The Legislature is going to have be careful about getting on a spending binge,” says Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro. “The normal stream of revenue is not supporting what we have in the budget right now. What we’re doing is spending based on amnesty money that’s going to go away. We’re spending on the pharmaceutical settlements, which is money that will go away the next year. If you look at the (Revenue Estimating Conference), there’s not a lot of growth expected.”
As for whether the issue could balloon, sending hordes of uniforms to the Capitol to pressure lawmakers, like in previous years, Fannin says it’s a possibility — especially with a proposed constitutional amendment to add municipal EMS workers to the list of those who can receive state supplemental pay.
“It might be like that. But there’s always people coming up the steps,” he notes. “We need to remember that if we increase supplemental pay, the increase is going to be there every year.”
For a breakdown of all the various supplemental pay bills that have been introduced, click here.