May 22, 2017 02:51 PM

Lt. Col. Jason Starnes (foreground) and Maj. Kevin Reeves of the Louisiana State Police testify Monday before the Senate Finance Committee Monday about what the proposed $18.5 million cut to their department will mean to public safety.
Photo by Sarah Gamard, Manship News Service

Grim-faced Louisiana State Police brass spent much of the morning Monday explaining to the Senate Finance Committee what the latest spending cuts to their department will do to public safety starting July.

Bottom line, they told the Manship School News Service following their testimony, could mean no longer being able to keep the public safe.

House Bill 1, which passed the House 63-40 earlier this month and is now under review by the Senate, reduces state funds to Louisiana State Police some $23 million less than the current fiscal year.

The state Department of Public Safety’s FY18 budget is $450 million in the latest version of HB1. The governor reduced the overall budget by $5.5 million; the Republican-controlled House version of his proposal slashed another $18.5 million.

The agency worried Monday that the additional $18.5 million reduction would, in the words of LSP Lt. Col. Jason Starnes, head of management and finance division of the state police, put in question whether he and his colleagues can “provide services to the public. Things that we need funding for, we’re not going to be able to spend money on.”

This, he said, includes fleet vehicles, more than half of which are due for replacements, and software technology upgrades. Both have been put off in recent years due to reduced financing.

Starnes also said state police will be forced to reduce overtime, which means fewer troopers on roads to respond to accidents and general crime.

LSP is also anxious about its impending “retirement cliff” — 280 of its 1,700 employees will be eligible for retirement next year — causing major vacancies, said Starnes.

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