CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - FOX 46 charlotte uncovered a serious funding problem for Highway Patrol. Now a state senator is calling for lawmakers for more state troopers.
"We need to triple or quadruple the state trooper force state-wide," said Senator Jeff Tarte.
Our reporting earlier this week shed light on stunted Highway Patrol salaries and cuts to state trooper positions.
RELATED: (add link to Monday and Wednesday’s stories)
Senator Joel Ford says the state has the money.
"The state of North Carolina has the adequate revenue that's coming in on an annualized basis through the revenue streams that we have. If we would prioritize the Highway Patrol, the men and women would be able to realize the pay increase and necessary cost adjustment of living increases they need to feel comfortable financially to do a dangerous and much needed job in North Carolina," Senator Ford said.
But it's not that simple according to Senator Tarte.
"The real question is how do we go about setting what the priorities are and getting 170 people - 120 representatives and 50 senators - to agree on those priorities. We have a $36 billion unfunded healthcare liability. We're only $36 billion short just in covering healthcare premiums," said Senator Tarte.
So, what’s the solution?
Senator Ford says, "the state of North Carolina received over a half a billion-dollar surplus from taxes already raised on the working families of North Carolina so we have the money. We have to prioritize and spend part of that money on the Highway Patrol."
Tarte says that surplus is spoken for. He says the real solution is smarter spending and taxes. "What we've done is change taxes and shifted it to consumption-based taxes and there are tax increases in those areas. We need to continue to do that so we can raise revenues to cover the priorities," said Senator Tarte.