INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb wants a 30% increase in starting pay for state troopers.

“For any thriving, prosperous community, they need to be safe,” Holcomb said at a news conference Wednesday as he announced his 2023 agenda.

Holcomb said Indiana has the money to spend more on public safety. One of his top priorities this year: significantly raise the starting pay for Indiana state troopers.

The current starting salary for state troopers is $53,690, which is much lower than many other law enforcement agencies in Indiana, according to the governor’s office.

Holcomb has proposed increasing that to $70,000, which would be the highest starting pay of any police statewide.

It would cost the state around $36 million per year, according to the governor’s office.

“It’s going to be life-changing for our troopers,” said Scott Krueger, president of the Indiana State Police Alliance, which represents more than 90% of the state’s troopers.

Right now, the Indiana State Police isn’t paying enough to be competitive with other agencies, Krueger said.

That makes it difficult to recruit and retain troopers, he said.

“We do lose officers to other police agencies,” Krueger said.

“It definitely strains operations with less people available to work, it inhibits how many troopers are working the road,” he added.

If approved, the pay increase would make Indiana troopers among the highest paid compared to other state police agencies in the Midwest and on par with many departments across the Hoosier State, Krueger said.

Now it’s up to state lawmakers to approve Holcomb’s proposal as they work on a new two-year state budget.

“The hope is that this really levels the playing field with other law enforcement agencies in Indiana, and we can attract the best and brightest candidates to come work for us,” Krueger said.

“We’re humbled and appreciative of the support from the governor’s office and the legislators that will take this under consideration,” Capt. Ron Galaviz of the Indiana State Police said in a statement.

Lawmakers return to the Statehouse Monday to start the new session.