Defund boomerang: New Missouri law gives Kansas City police 25% of city's budget
Republicans who pushed the law argued Kansas City was part of the national "defund the police" movement.
A new law requires the Kansas City board of police to receive 25% of Kansas City's general revenue fund, an increase from the previous amount of 20%.
Senate Bill 678, sponsored by Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, was signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Parson on Monday during a visit to Kansas City Police headquarters.
Throughout the 2022 legislative session, Republicans stated Kansas City was part of the national "defund the police" movement. In 2021, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and the city council attempted to transfer $42.3 million of the police department's $239 million budget to community services and other public engagement initiatives.
"When a majority of the City Council voted to strip $42 million from KCPD's budget in 2021, I knew I had to do something to prevent future efforts to defund the police," Luetkemeyer said in a statement. "This legislation will ensure the KCPD has the resources it needs to keep our community safe and stop similar radical budget cuts going forward."
The new law will be implemented through a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Senate Joint Resolution 38 will give the legislature the ability to increase minimum funding for a police force established by a state board of commissioners. Kansas City is the only Missouri police force controlled by the state.
The police board, comprised of the mayor and four members appointed by the governor, and the state successfully sued Lucas and members of the city council last year to get the money restored to the budget. The state took control of Kansas City's police force in the 1930s after a corruption scandal.
"In Missouri, we defend our law enforcement officers who answer the call each and every day to protect and serve Missourians," Parson, the former sheriff of Polk County from 1993 to 2005, said in a statement. "We don't defund them. With crime on the rise in cities across the country, we are signing SB 678 to ensure that the KCPD is receiving the necessary resources to support public safety and combat violent crime."
The legislation was sent to the governor on May 13, the same day Lucas was at the White House to meet with President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland about increasing funding for public safety initiatives.
"I do not think, necessarily, that someone in outstate Missouri has better answers for policing than somebody in the core of Kansas City," Lucas said. "What we've been able to do, both with American Rescue Plan funding and our collaboration with folks at the state and federal level, is come up with solutions like more officers that my friends in the legislature and the governor are asking for. I do not support anything that takes away our ability to work with our local police department and neighborhood leaders in terms of how we get to better solutions for violent crime."
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