Michigan Republican lawmakers in the House recently proposed a $250 million supplement to the budget to bolster police resources and recruiting efforts, and to show their support for law enforcement.
The supplementary budget proposal, House Bill 5522, aims to improve police operations and staffing numbers through allocations to recruitment and retention programs, equipment upgrades, and community outreach efforts.
The bill is an add-on to a previous budget proposal in May by Republican lawmakers seeking $80 million for law enforcement recruitment and training, which passed the House and Senate but did not make it to the governor’s desk before the end of the legislative session.
House Speaker Jason Wentworth said the bill is a reminder to law enforcement of their political support in the wake of calls to defund the police.
“Michigan’s men and women in uniform deserve to know that they are a priority and that their work is important to us,” Wentworth said. “In an era when far too many people are attacking law enforcement and looking for ways to defund the police, we chose to stand with them and find solutions together.”
The proposal is broken down into tuition assistance and scholarship grants for law enforcement candidates, $7.5 million for mental health assistance programs, $10 million for community policing efforts, and $15 million for community initiatives like the Detroit Police Athletic League.
In addition, more than $57 million will go towards recruiting officers from other states, while allowing officers to retain retirement benefits received in other states. Other incentives include fishing and hunting licenses to attract officers.
“We want to help local departments in Michigan hire good, experienced officers without raiding each other’s agencies,” Rep. Thomas Albert, chair of the House Appropriations Committee said. “That’s why we’re working to make Michigan an even more welcoming place for officers who are out-of-state and looking for a change.”
The proposal also includes money for equipment upgrades such as body worn cameras, K-9 teams, communications equipment, and other gear.
According to MichiganLive, $156 million of the $250 million proposal would come out of the state’s general fund, with the rest coming from the federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds authorized by the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
It’s not clear if Democrats will work with Republicans after criticizing the previous bill as a “pale imitation” of the Democrats’ own budget proposal.
MLive noted that the plan has similar features to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Communities Plan, which proposed $75 million for officer retention efforts, counselling, and education assistance grants.