None of the $11 million earmarked to pay for state police pay raises through enhanced debt collection efforts by the Office of Motor Vehicles has been submitted to the state general fund, according to a spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.
Meanwhile, a confidential report prepared for legislators has been obtained by LouisianaVoice which indicates that despite State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson’s claim last January that the pay raise would not affect “upper echelon” personnel, 145 lieutenants, captains, and majors got pay raises totaling $5.3 million per year. Additionally, four deputy superintendents received raises averaging $26,170 (23 percent) each.
Seven pilots ($29,769, or 39 percent), 24 emergency services personnel ($31,247, or 45 percent), two polygraphists ($33,995, or 49 percent), and six support personnel ($25,309, or 31 percent) also received pay hikes.
The breakdown shows that 13 majors and 106 lieutenants received 46 percent pay hikes and 26 captains got bumps of 53 percent. The average salaries ranged from $108,571 for lieutenants to $136,333 for captains, the report indicates.
The largest individual salary increase was $57,252 and the largest single percentage increase was 74 percent, the report says.
State classified employees, when they receive merit increases, generally receive only 4 percent increases but those salaries have been frozen for nearly six years because of budgetary constraints.
Moreover, a separate national study released on Tuesday (Sept. 29) listed police departments from three Louisiana cities as among the worst paying in the nation, including one rated as the lowest.
Altogether, 945 state troopers, ranging from cadets to majors, accounted for more than $20 million in pay increases, thanks to two measures passed by legislators six months apart in 2015.
Unsaid in the report was the effect the pay raises will inevitably have on the unfunded accrued liability (UAL) of the Louisiana State Police Retirement system.
State senators, with minimal discussion, approved the $11 million pay increase during the waning days of the 2015 legislative session only six months after troopers received their first sizable increase. Together, the two raises boosted state trooper pay by 30 percent, according to calculations by the Legislative Fiscal Office.
The first state police pay adjustment was approved in June of 2014 but the money did not become available until the Jan. 19 increase took effect.
In the case of the second pay raise, however, the funds were committed before they were received and none of the anticipated $11 million from old tickets has been received by the state general fund, a situation that could leave the state another $11 million short if the money is not forthcoming by the end of the current fiscal year which closes next June 30.
Lines 42-47 on page 65 of House Bill 1, the Appropriations Bill, appropriates the $11 million “Payable out of state general fund by Statutory Dedications out of the Debt Recovery Fund to the Office of State Police for additional salary support for state troopers, in the event that House Bill No. 638 of the 2015 Regular Session of the Legislature is enacted into law.”
HB 638, by State Rep. Barry Ivey (R-Baton Rouge), which was enacted into law and signed by Bobby Jindal as Act 414, provides that the Department of Public Safety (DPS) collect certain fees “associated with the suspension of an operator’s license” which are related to auto liability insurance requirements. The fees become delinquent after 60 days and are referred to the Office of Debt Recovery.
The bill earmarks $25 million from the Debt Recovery Fund for use by the Office of State Police. Here is the legislative digest of HB 638 (ACT 414)
But with none of that money having been yet gone to the general fund, legislators are beginning to worry.
Additionally, the state police pay increases have not yet produced additional sergeants’ positions. The report said, “State Police leadership claimed in two meetings that the agency was experiencing difficulty attracting Master Troopers who were interested in applying for Sergeant Positions.” The number of Sergeants, however, has only increased by four, from 193 to 197, it said.
Moreover, there have been only 123 promotions within state police ranks and 44, or more than a third, were from cadet to trooper.
There has been one promotion from captain to major, five from lieutenant to captain and 11 from sergeant to lieutenant, the report indicates.
Here is the BREAKDOWN OF STATE POLICE PAY RAISES
Coincidentally, even as the two pay increases combined to make state police the highest-paid law enforcement agency in the state, a national survey Tuesday (Sept. 29) listed three Louisiana cities as among the 30 with the lowest pay for police officers.
Alexandria had the lowest pay in the nation among major cities with an average salary of $31,370 per year for officers. Monroe, with an average salary of $34,000 was eighth lowest, while Lake Charles was 21st lowest in the state with an average salary of $35,320.
The State Police Retirement System (STPOL) had the smallest UAL of four state retirement systems which combined for an UAL balance of $18.588 million in 2013. The breakdown for the individual systems shows that the Teachers Retirement System (TRSL) had the largest UAL of $11.13 million, followed by the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System (LASERS) at $6.25 million, the Louisiana School Employees Retirement System (LSERS) at $863.7 million and STPOL at $305.4 million (up from the $166.5 UAL of 2006).
STPOL receives revenues from the state and from taxes on insurance premiums but the funding levels from the state have decreased steadily since the high of 73.1 percent of 2007 to 59.1 percent of 2013.