JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In the final hours of the Missouri Legislature’s session, lawmakers passed a bill that would require Kansas City to increase the minimum budget for the police department.
Under current state law Kansas City is required to spend 20% of its general revenue on the police department. But under this new bill, which passed the Senate in March and the House on Friday, Kansas City would be required to increase that to 25%.
Kansas City is the only city that doesn’t have local control of its department and will be the only jurisdiction affected by this bill. The bill now heads to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk, awaiting his signature.
But some Democratic lawmakers argued the bill would violate the “Hancock Amendment,” part of the Missouri Constitution that prohibits unfunded state mandates on local actions.
To address this, the Republican-controlled House also approved a constitutional amendment that would give them the authority to do so. That amendment will go before voters this fall.
“The Kansas City Police Department historically, and for years even prior to this, has been under state control, so we’re really not changing anything at all with this resolution,” said state Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, who sponsored the bill.
“All we’re doing is making very clear that the city council must fund the department at the levels that it needs to be funded at and that they cannot defund the police department.”
But some local leaders have not taken kindly to lawmakers interfering in police budgeting.
“While Jefferson City injects out-state politics into the issue of our safety, I spent the day with our police chief, the US Attorney General, and the President working on solutions to crime in our community. As a child of Kansas City, I’ll never stop fighting to make it safer,” Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted Friday while visiting the White House with interim KCPD Chief Joseph Mabin.
“We will now have our lawyers and ultimately judges solve the question of our anti-democratic system of state police control.”
The legislature’s move comes in direct response to the Kansas City Council’s attempt last year to reallocate over $40 million of police funds to a community services fund, requiring the police board and city to negotiate on how it’s spent.
A judge ultimately ruled against the city’s move last year, but Luetkemeyer previously told FOX4 that’s only because the money had already been appropriated.
This year, the police department’s budget is set at $269 million, the largest of any city department and over the current 20% requirement.
But in a push for accountability once again, this year the city council came to an agreement with the police board to put over $30 million in a community services fund. The money will still go to KCPD but will be directly focused on increased pay for officers and staff, adding more officers, funding for the communications unit and more.