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Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday signed a bill into law that will add a $2 fee for renting vehicles in Massachusetts. It will pay for municipal police training in areas ranging from drug recognition to implicit bias.
The bill includes other revenue sources — drawing from grants, private donations and the Marijuana Regulation Fund. Proponents say it gives the state's Municipal Police Training Committee more latitude with funding for police development.
Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes says the funding will help Massachusetts have some of the best-trained police departments in the country.
Kyes notes the recent deaths of on-duty officers in the state, and says no training can ever prevent people who are determined to kill police. "But we can definitely take every step available to ensure our officers have the right equipment, are as safe as possible," he says.
Currently, police training is mostly funded by appropriations in the state's budget.
Kyes says that amount has consistently been around $5 million.
Cape and Islands state Sen. Julian Cyr, a Democrat, says paying for police training through the car rental fee is a more stable approach.
"Recessions will come and happen," Cyr says. "So, the idea and the thought here is that we're decoupling it from the traditional appropriations and having a stable funding stream regardless of the ups and downs of revenues for the state."
The Municipal Police Training Committee will now oversee the money.
But the president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, Eileen McAnneny, is concerned there will no longer be a routine review of spending on police training.
"There's less accountability," she says. "It doesn't go through the annual budgeting process where lawmakers make a conscious choice to continue to fund it."
Under the new law, the surcharge alone can raise up to $10 million for the police fund each year -- double the amount the state previously appropriated.
The $2 fee goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019.
This segment aired on July 25, 2018.
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