(NewsNation) — The mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, is suing the state and the Board of Police Commissioners over a bill requiring the city to spend at least 25% of its budget on the police department.
Mayor Quinton Lucas is challenging Senate Bill 678, which increases the allocation of the city’s general revenue for the police department from 20% to 25%.
“The radical legislation provides no pay guarantees for our officers, will not hire a single police officer, and ignores the will and importance of Kansas City taxpayers,” said Lucas in a statement. “Instead attempting to politicize policing in Kansas City at a time we sorely need bipartisan solutions to violent crime.”
Lucas believes the forced increase in funding is unconstitutional and a violation of Missouri’s Hancock Amendment, which prohibits unfunded state mandates.
That’s why state lawmakers also passed a measure that will ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment this fall allowing it to take effect. The bill is set to go on the ballot in November.
Lucas says he has always supported pay increases for police and backs hiring more police officers.
“With billions of dollars available, conservative legislators did nothing for our officers,” Lucas said. “But now (they) pretend to support the police by creating a policy that ultimately will defund our firefighters, defund our parks, and defund road repair in Kansas City.”
The state’s move to increase Kansas City’s police budget is seen largely as a rebuke of Lucas and the city council, who last year moved to re-allocate $42 million dollars from the police budget to establish a “community services and prevention fund.”
Critics say the move proves Lucas is out to defund the police and it was ultimately stopped short by a circuit court judge who ruled it would be a violation of state law.
“If those funding cuts would have stuck, it would have totally destabilized this police department,” Republican State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer said.
In a visit to the White House back in May, Lucas argued that Kansas City, not the state of Missouri, should be the one making decisions about the city’s public safety budget.
“I think it’s always important to have locally driven solutions to local problems,” he said. “I do not think, necessarily, that someone in out-state Missouri has better answers for policing than somebody in the core of Kansas City.”
NewsNation affiliate WDAF contributed to this report.