Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is exploring the idea of setting a new minimum wage for police officers as part of his campaign for governor.
The Summerville News reported that the gubernatorial candidate said at a stop in Chattooga County that the minimum wage would only affect certain officers and that he doesn’t yet have a specific number in mind. A campaign spokesman said the idea will be vetted by a task force.
Gov. Nathan Deal in 2016 backed a budget increase that guaranteed a 20 percent raise for state law enforcement officers. But some sheriffs and police chiefs fumed that it bypassed local authorities, with one sheriff going as far as slamming “King Nathan and his merry band” for the slight.
The starting pay for Georgia State Patrol officers rose to $46,422 with the pay hike. Sheriffs contend it’s hard to compete for top talent when, according to the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, the average starting salary for a deputy doesn’t reach $30,000.
Deal has said that deputies should lobby their counties, not the state, for higher pay and that shifting salary hikes to the state would also give Georgia the “control mechanism” over local authorities.
Several lawmakers this year sought to boost pay but their measures failed to gain traction: Among them is state Sen. Michael Williams, another Republican candidate for governor.
Williams in March dispatched reality TV dude “Dog the Bounty Hunter” – now his campaign chair - to send a robo-call blast to thousands of Georgians urging a hearing on his stalled proposal to raise the salary of local police officers and deputy sheriffs to the same level as Georgia state troopers.