Panel approves 100 more Ore. state troopers


A legislative subcommittee has approved spending enough money to put another 100 state troopers on Oregon's highways.

The Public Safety Subcommittee of the Joint Ways Means Committee agreed to put $217 million from the general fund into the Oregon State Police budget for 2007-09 &

$38 million more than was budgeted for 2005-07.

Besides adding 100 troopers to the highway patrol division, the money would allow the agency to add seven detectives and put additional personnel in state crime labs.

Oregon has the country's fewest number of state troopers per capita. The number of troopers has fallen from 665 in 1979 &

before voters approved a measure that ended the Oregon State Police's ability to rely on the gas tax and other revenue in the Highway Fund &

to 331 this year.

Going into the legislative session, Gov. Ted Kulongoski proposed to restore troopers to the roads 24 hours a day, paid for by a vehicle insurance surcharge.

That idea faced overwhelming opposition, and the Legislature now is looking at other proposals &

such as using beer tax proceeds or general revenue &

to hire more troopers.

Rep. Chip Shields, D-Portland, the chairman of the panel that deals with public safety budgets, said the idea behind Monday's vote was to move forward on the spending side while continuing to explore ways to pay for patrols.

"We've got to take care of getting 100 troopers on the road today, and we'll continue to look for a dedicated funding source &

a real one that has dollars attached to it."

Rep. Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg, was the only subcommittee member to vote against the budget. He said it falls short of the goal to restore round-the-clock patrols, which would require about 140 more troopers.

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