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Fee Increases Could Pay For More Kansas Highway Patrol Troopers

Sam Zeff

Would you pay more to get your vehicle titled or registered in Kansas if it meant more state Highway Patrol troopers on the road? Patrol Superintendent Col. Mark Bruce is betting legislators will answer 'yes'. 

Bruce sent a letter to lawmakers last month, proposing a $7.50 increase to the fee charged when a vehicle is titled  or registered in Kansas as a way to pay to hire new troopers. Currently, that fee is $10. 

He suggests the idea as a way to get around the state's increasingly bleak budget picture, made more tenuous with the release this week showing the state fell $27 million short of tax revenue projections in December. 

"The state's current and foreseeable financial difficulty led me to conclude that a fee increase would be the most appropriate solution to this problem," Bruce writes in the letter. 

The letter notes that Kansas has 82 fewer troopers than it did a decade ago, and estimates that the fee increase would be enough to hire 75 more troopers. 

The trooper losses, Bruce says, have "severely handicapped" the Patrol's ability to do its mission of providing for the public safety and supporting local law enforcement. KCUR reported last month that 27 of Kansas's 105 counties have no trooper assigned to them, and 31 more have only one assigned trooper.

"Col. Bruce is making a compelling case on why we need to do that [increase fees]," Sen. Anthony Hensley, the Democratic Minority Leader said. "I'm inclined right now to support it. I don't like raising fees, but under the circumstances, I don't know if we have a choice." 

Kyle Palmer is KCUR's morning newscaster. You can follow him on Twitter @kcurkyle

Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post, a digital news outlet serving Northeast Johnson County, Kansas. He previously served as KCUR's news director and morning newscaster.
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