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Kaine outlines proposals for Va. law enforcement, guard

Jan 5, 12:44 PM EST


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) -- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine on Friday proposed increased retirement benefits for law enforcement officers and protections for Virginia National Guard and reserve members.

Kaine said he would propose the public safety initiatives to the 2007 General Assembly, which convenes next week.

"We ask you to be there for us in those most desperate moments in people's lives," Kaine told law enforcement officials and National Guard members at Camp Pendleton State Military Reservation. "The future of our commonwealth is very much tied up with your future."

Kaine said he will submit a proposal that would raise the average annual retirement compensation for state police officers by $3,000, which he said will help state police recruit and retain officers.

He also proposed funding to encourage local governments to increase retirement benefits for sheriff's deputies.

The governor noted that in 2006 Virginia lost 11 law enforcement officers on the job - more than in any year in the past decade.

Kaine said he has identified existing state funds to address law enforcement retirement issues - $11.5 million for sheriff's deputies and $2.3 million for state police.

The governor's budget proposal also includes $8.2 million to increase salaries for officers and supervisors in the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Kaine said he also will ask the General Assembly to appropriate $1 million to fund benefits through the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program, formerly known as the Virginia War Orphans Education Program.

The program provides free tuition and other benefits for spouses and children of military service members who are killed, missing in action, taken prisoner or become at least 90 percent disabled.

Kaine also proposed changes to smooth the process when active guard members challenge private sector employment benefits.