Senate Democrats Deliver for Public Safety
RICHMOND – Senate Democrats hope to restore funding to Virginia's finest, curb youth violence, and create jobs under the budget bill approved yesterday by the Senate Finance Committee.
The budget restores $39.1 million FY2012 public safety budget restores funding to local governments, law enforcement training, and youth violence programs
Senate Public Safety Committee Chair Janet Howell, D-Reston, said funding public safety is a budgeting priority for the Senate.
"The past few years have been extremely difficult for our state and local agencies that are responsible for protecting public safety. Fortunately, these agencies and their employees have risen to the occasion with steadfast dedication," she said. "We have reduced core services and there are now significant gaps in our budget that we must address. This budget will fill those gaps and equip our agencies with the tools they need to keep our neighborhoods safe."
The Senate budget restores more funding to local governments than version proposed by the Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates.
In addition to adding $18.7million to local governments for public safety, the Senate budget restores a net of $5.3million for the Department of State Police to accelerate the opening of three Basic Trooper Schools which will reduce the 12.9percent vacancy rate in sworn positions.
More than 300 public safety jobs will be saved or create jobs under the budget, which includes the opening of a new state correctional facility in Grayson County. The facility will bring 232 new jobs to the area.
The budget also adds funding for probation officer and related positions for prisoner reentry programs and fills vacant positions in regional Veteran's Services offices.
Senate Democrats also hope to curb youth violence by restoring $2.5million for the Virginia Juvenile Community Crime Control Act. The program provides grant allocations to localities for juvenile diversion and crime control programs.
"These programs have helped keep down the population growth in our state juvenile facilities. We are getting close to the point that many localities will be shutting down these valuable programs due to lack of funds. We cannot let down our youth by allowing this happen," said Howell.