Fee rise for police training squeaks past committee
House lawmakers narrowly approved a plan Wednesday from state Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, to increase automotive registration fees to underwrite police training.
The House Finance Committee voted 6-5 to approve King’s measure, House Bill 1036, which would increase a fee on vehicle registrations that underwrites Colorado’s Peace Officer Standards and Training program from 25 cents to 60 cents.
Peace Officer Standards and Training academies teach law enforcement trainees the basics of criminal law, police procedure and other essential skills, such as the use of firearms.
King said the “minimal increase in fee” will help improve law enforcement training throughout the state.
“I hear, ‘Steve, this is the wrong time to look at a fee increase,’” King said. “In a time of fiscal stress for our state, we see an increase in violence. … I think now is the time for better trained law enforcement officers.”
Littleton Police Chief Heather Coogan said the fee increase will help ensure that training programs do not get cut as revenues allocated to police departments decrease.
“Realistically when you think about the money, departments that don’t have a lot of money, the first thing that gets cut is training,” Coogan said.
She said a two-car household would pay 70 cents extra every year under King’s bill.
According to the nonpartisan Colorado Legislative Council, King’s bill would raise nearly $1.5 million a year after it came into effect in July 2009.
King’s bill, however, drew criticism from a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, to Rep. Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial.
“This is a tax. … I think we’re in a constitutional box that when we raise taxes we’re supposed to get a vote of the people,” Swalm said. “(The) program’s great, (but) I think we have a problem with the funding mechanism.”
King’s bill will next go to the House Appropriations Committee.