(The Center Square) – Local police and fire personnel are one step closer to a boost in state supplemental pay after the Louisiana Senate Finance Committee approved a bill to make it happen.
Committee members voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 80, sponsored by Chair Rep. Mack White, R-Baton Rouge, to increase monthly state supplemental pay for local police and firefighters by $100 a month.
“It’s a supplement because law enforcement, they enforce and make arrests on our state statutes, our state laws,” White said Monday during the committee meeting. “They don’t just do their local laws, they do our state laws.
“The fire departments, they work accidents on our state roads, our interstates, and all that, and that’s one of the reasons they have a state supplement,” he said.
Current law gives qualified law enforcement and firefighters $500 a month in supplemental pay, and SB 80 would increase the pay to $600 a month. The total cost to the state would run $24.85 million.
“I think with the current state of our society, with so many laws and so many law enforcement offers getting hurt and shot, and also the firemen get to get in on it now, they’re attacked,” White said. “I think it’s a just cause to try to raise their state supplement by $100 a month, which we equate to a $1,200 (a year) raise.”
Sen. Gerald Boudreaux, D-Lafayette, noted the bill simply extends the raises to those already receiving supplemental pay and suggested lawmakers state explicitly in the bill the positions that receive the money.
“What I would ask is that between now and the floor if the staff can just take a look at it,” he said, adding that marshals and constables are not identified. “If there’s any opportunity for us to amend it on the floor just to make it clear, because some of us will not be here in 10 years when they come back and they will ask what was the intent.
“My request is just to look and see if clarity is needed,” Boudreaux said.
Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, echoed Boudreaux’s call for clarity.
“I’ve gotten some calls also,” she said. “Since it’s not listed, people just call to make sure they’re included.”
“I was told when it was written it took nobody out, it stayed the same … but staff will go re-check it and I’ll go through it with them one more time,” White said.
Sen. Cameron Henry Jr., R-Metairie, pointed out that local governments would be required to pick up some increased retirement benefits because of the bill, but noted no officials attended the meeting in opposition.
“I did not get a call,” White said. “I think they’re probably happy we’re paying them … $7,200 a year state supplement to their employees.”
SB 80 moves to the full Senate for consideration.
“They have to meet requirements, and if they meet those requirements, if they’re currently making a state supplement of $500 a month, that supplement would go to $600 a month, a $100 increase,” White said.