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Politics / Issues

Gov. Scott To Push For Raise For State Law Enforcement Officials

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Steve Newborn
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WUSF News
Gov. Scott in front of the north Tampa FHP post

Gov. Rick Scott today announced a plan to give all state law enforcement officers a 5 percent pay increase.  It would be for state troopers, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers and members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Scott spoke at the the Florida Highway Patrol office in north Tampa, where he credited their work with helping reduce crime to new lows.

"It's risky to put on the uniform every day," he said. "We all care about security. If it wasn't for all these individuals standing behind me and the people they work with, we wouldn't be at a 45-year low, we wouldn't be wanting to have all these people move to our state. So it's important to make sure this happens."

Scott said the raise will enable the state to hire more officers and keep existing officers on the job.

That sentiment was echoed by Colonel Gene Spaulding, director of the Florida Highway Patrol.

"The guys coming in and the gals coming in at the line level need to have a glimmer of hope for the future," he said after the governor's address. "And for us to be able to give them an opportunity to advance at that level, I think, is a huge benefit, and it will go a long way toward helping us recruit and retain better qualified people."

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Credit Steve Newborn / WUSF News
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WUSF News
Gov. Scott in front of the north Tampa FHP post

But it could run into a roadblock with lawmakers, as some economists are predicting as much as a billion-dollar state budget deficit this year.

Scott said he'll push to make the numbers work.

"If you look at the numbers, the state revenues are growing," he said. "It's incumbent upon us to work with the state legislature to allocate the dollars, because they're your tax dollars, allocate those dollars to, one, keep this economy going, but focus on keeping people safe and making sure we have good education and then provide the safety nets that our citizens expect."

Scott said the state budget should be in good shape, with record numbers of tourists and hundreds of thousands of people moving to Florida every year.