Sherwood Details Public Safety Commitment

VA HouseGOPBudget, Featured, Issues

Del. Beverly Sherwood (R-Frederick) addressed the House on the strong support for public safety in the House Budget. Del. Sherwood, who chairs both the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee and the Subcommittee on Public Safety of the House Appropriations Committee, notes the restoration of critical funding cut by former Gov. Kaine’s proposed budget–funding for Sheriffs, Commonwealth’s Attorneys, reinstated State Police trooper schools, and key support for local police departments.

Check out Sherwood’s speech on YouTube.

A transcript of Delegate Sherwood’s speech follows:

Mr. Speaker, people often say “you should put your money where your mouth is.” Well, this body has for years placed a significant emphasis on public safety. So, today, I would like to tell you about the House Budget that you adopted last Thursday and its commitment to public safety. The amendments you adopted restored funding for Sheriffs and Commonwealth’s Attorneys, initiated State Police basic trooper schools, and maintained support for the HB 599 program.

The introduced budget submitted in December reduced funding for sheriffs by $47.1 million in FY 2011 and $59.8 million in FY 2012, equaling about a 13.4 percent biennial reduction in the level of funding previously provided to sheriffs, who, as many of you know, provide the primary law enforcement services in many communities.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of our adopted House budget because it restores $41.2 million in funding for sheriffs in FY2011 and $40.7 million in FY 2012. These restorations mean that instead of the 13.4 percent biennial reduction proposed for sheriffs, the House budget includes only a 3.2 percent reduction.

This additional funding includes restoration of the 1-to-1,500 law enforcement ratios, the elimination of across-the-board reductions for sheriffs and regional jails, and the restoration of the retirement and group life insurance payments provided for sheriffs and regional jail personnel.

And, Mr. Speaker, in addition to the funding provided for sheriffs and regional jails, the budget you adopted also restores funding for another important component of the Commonwealth’s public safety, your Commonwealth’s attorneys, who ensure the safety of our citizens by placing criminals behind bars.

The introduced budget reduced the existing funding for Commonwealth’s attorneys by $10.9 million each year, or 16.5 percent. In contrast, the House budget restores &7.5 million in each year to our Commonwealth’s attorney’s offices. this restoration reduces the proposed 16.5 percent reduction in each year to no more than 5 precent.

Another important component to ensuring the Commonwealth’s public safety is our State Police troopers. Included among the reductions contained in the introduced budget was pushing off funding for State Police basic trooper schools, allowing only one to proceed in the current biennium.

Again, I’m proud of this House budget because, at a time when more than 300 State Police positions are vacant and more than 250 troopers could retire, this budget provides funding to ensure that new troopers will continue to respond both to the needs of our citizens and other law enforcement agencies.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the House budget maintains funding for the HB 599 program. While you know funding for this program increases and decreases with general fund revenue growth, the House budget we adopted ensures that $150 million each year is available to support those localities with police departments. Our local police departments answer the call every day, protecting citizens and addressing emergencies.

As you can see, the body’s continuing commitment to public safety is once again affirmed in the budget we adopted last Thursday. We should all be very proud of that fact.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.