LSP expecting 30 percent pay raise Friday
BATON ROUGE - Despite the state facing a deficit of more than a billion dollars, Louisiana State Police is expected to get a 30 percent pay increase in salaries for nearly 1,000 troopers.
Starting pay, with benefits, would go from around $35,000 to $46,000. The increase was approved last summer but the money just became available, and still needs to be shifted from a fund that collects increased fines from drivers without insurance. The joint legislative budget committee is set to vote on moving that money Friday.
Louisiana State Police says the raise is well over due, especially when comparing their current salary to departments like Gonzales that start pay at about $44,000 a year. But departments like Baton Rouge that start pay around $31,000 a year complain it puts them at a disadvantage, especially when it comes to recruiting new officers.
"We're in direct competition with them and if they get a pay raise of this magnitude it's going to definitely hinder our efforts to get the best and the brightest coming out of universities and prior military experience and former law enforcement," said Chris Stewart, president of the Baton Rouge Police Union. "All those top-notch cadets and new recruits are going to be going to that agency versus ours and we're going to be left with the leftovers, so to speak."
State Police says all they're after is an even playing field. Compared to state police agencies across the country, troopers in Louisiana have one of the lowest salaries.
"We have not had a pay adjustment since 2002," Superintendent Mike Edmonson said. "I believe it's time, everything I've asked my troopers to do, they've unquestionably done it."
The Baton Rouge Police Union is currently in talks with the mayor's office and a pay raise is expected this spring, but Stewart says it won't be close to 30 percent.