House Speaker David Ralston is pushing an initiative to allocate $25 million to local law enforcement to provide one-time bonuses with state tax dollars. It’s part of a $75 million proposal to provide additional personnel and resources for law enforcement and mental health services.
Ralston made the announcement at the Summer Training Conference for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council in Jekyll Island.
The proposal contains $25 million for a one-time bonus for local law enforcement officers and approximately $50 million in recurring, annual expenditures for a number of state law enforcement, judicial and mental health agencies.
“Today, I announce a significant investment in personnel and resources to keep our streets safe and our state a great place to live, to work and to raise a family,” Ralston said in a press release. “We owe it to our communities to bolster law enforcement and mental health services in a time when some areas of our state are seeing a dramatic increase in crime and the number of individuals in need of mental health care. This proposal is one I am proud to offer and the House of Representatives will stand firmly behind when we consider it as part of our 2022 budget process.”
The $25 million for a one-time, $1,000 bonus for each POST-certified local police officer and sheriff’s deputy will be made available to local law enforcement agencies through a grant process. The funds must be used for bonuses for sworn personnel according to the terms prescribed and may not be used for any other purpose.
“Georgia is a state that stands firmly with those who wear the badge,” Ralston said. “This $25 million is about rewarding those police officers and sheriff’s deputies who protect and serve our communities each and every day, often putting themselves in harm’s way in the line of duty.”
The approximately $50 million in annual expenditures will meet personnel or resource needs at a number of state agencies.
Of that $50 million, more than $20 million will go to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, $10 million will go towards salary increases for state prosecutors and public defenders, and the remaining $20 million will be divided among a dozen other agencies based on agency requests and program needs with a particular focus on mental health services.
Within the $20 million for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the bulk goes toward funding additional personnel in death investigations, forensic services, and several specialized task forces.
New funding will also be allocated for the GBI to initiate investigations in cases where election fraud is suspected. That funding will be accompanied by companion enabling legislation in the 2022 legislative session so that the GBI may initiate such investigations of its own accord without the need for a request or direction from any other local or state authority.
The $10 million in salary increases for state prosecutors and public defenders will reward primarily mid and senior-level personnel to incentivize retention of experienced professionals.
Of the allotments in the remaining $20 million:
- $7 million is devoted to additional Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability crisis beds
- $2 million will go toward salary increases and additional personnel for Georgia’s accountability courts.
- $3 million in agency funding that Speaker Ralston announced on Monday to combat crime in the City of Atlanta.
“I have said many times that for us to continue to be a great state, we must also focus on being a good state – one that cares for those who need it,” said Speaker Ralston. “Mental health is something that touches almost every family in this state, so investing in mental health services and our accountability courts is not just good business – it is also a way of helping people recover and reunite with their families.”
This $75 million proposal will be considered during the 2022 legislative session and elements may appear in the Amended Fiscal Year 2022 state budget or the Fiscal Year 2023 state budget.