Virginia House and Senate budget leaders on Wednesday announced plans to give 3 percent raises to state employees and an even bigger boost to state troopers, who have been leaving the agency in droves.

Starting pay for troopers would rise from $36,200 a year to $43,000 under the agreement struck between the Republicans who control the money committees for both chambers. In addition to the 3 percent raise, existing troopers would see their annual salaries jump by more than $6,700 to keep pace with the new hires.

As trooper salaries have lagged those of other law enforcement agencies, state police have lost an average of 14 troopers a month over the past year. The department has 218 vacancies out of an authorized force of 2,118 troopers.

Wayne Huggins, executive director of the Virginia State Police Association, told the Washington Post local and federal law enforcement agencies have been luring away troopers after the state has invested $55,000 to recruit and train each one.

“We’ve become nothing more than a glorified training academy,” Huggins said.

He said the raises, if finally approved, will help stem those losses.

 

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