At today's Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing, state Sens. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) and John Rafferty (R-Berks/Chester/ Montgomery) called for additional funding for the Office of Attorney General in the 2013-14 state budget.
In the governor's budget proposal announced earlier this month, the Office of Attorney General was due to receive flat-funding but the senators insist that flat-funding is simply not enough to protect the public from the alarming increases in violent crime and drug trafficking in the Commonwealth.
"Crime, drug trafficking and gang activity are problems not unique to big cities – they are a threat to areas all across the Commonwealth and if we do not adequately fund efforts to curb these dangerous activities, our children and our communities will be at risk for years to come," Yudichak said. "We will continue to fight for the safety of our residents, and, with the help of Attorney General Kathleen Kane, push for additional funding so that we can extend the reach of proven crime prevention programs – like the Attorney General's Drug Strike Force and Drug Task Force."
The Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, Drug Strike Force and Drug Task Forces work with local and state police, Pennsylvania's 67 county District Attorneys and federal law enforcement agencies to target drug trafficking throughout the Commonwealth. These partnerships are especially helpful for smaller, local police departments that do not have the staff or resources to deploy full investigations.
"It is necessary to provide adequate resources to the Office of Attorney General to carry out the intent of the anti-gang legislation recently offered by several Senators including Senator Yudichak and myself and signed into law by the Governor." Rafferty said. "I have been advocating during my entire career in the legislature that we need to sufficiently fund our chief Prosecutor, and providing adequate funding will ensure that Attorney General Kane can fully utilize this new tool intended to curb gang violence. Furthermore, providing additional funding to the Attorney General would protect our Commonwealth by increasing the effectiveness of our Child Predator Unit, Drug Strike Force, Tobacco Settlement Enforcement and Gun Violence Task force just to name a few."
Yudichak said that he has had several positive discussions with Attorney General Kane about adding additional agents to the Wilkes-Barre regional Attorney General's office to help in the fight against drugs and gang activity in the area but funding remains an issue.