Washington State Patrol, the agency in charge of protecting Gov. Jay Inslee, is requesting millions in new funding after Inslee's decision to run for president. 

WSP is tasked with protecting the governor, his family and the lieutenant governor at all times, both in and out of the state.

According to the WSP, their current baseline budget is roughly $2.6 million per year. The agency wanted to increase that to $3.3 million, saying they were already shorthanded.

Then, Inslee announced on March 1 that he would seek the Democratic nomination for president. That meant WSP would need to dramatically expand the size of their protection unit, roughly doubling it with eight new members.

"Six troopers, and we're adding a sergeant, and we're adding a lieutenant," said WSP spokesperson Chris Loftis. "Simply because they're going to be traveling more with the presidential campaign."

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The cost of that unit enhancement: an estimated $760,000 in the 2019 fiscal year, $2.02 million in the 2020 fiscal year, and $1.00 million the 2021 fiscal year, Loftis said. 

"We have to plan for the most robust contingency, and the most robust contingency is that he'll be the [Democratic nominee] for president," Loftis said. 

That means, if Inslee stays in the race for the long run, the overall budget for his protection could jump from $2.6 million to $5.3 million in 2020, more than double the current cost to taxpayers.

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Inslee is currently polling at less than 1 percent, so that may not matter.

"If his candidacy doesn't last long, these numbers are moot," Loftis said.

If the budget requests don't get approved, WSP still needs to protect the governor and they say they could not do the job properly on a campaign schedule without additional staff.

"We could not do it," Loftis said. "The bottom line is we're already stretched. People are working too many hours. You've got to have people who are sharp...ready to do their duty at a moment's notice."

That means they would likely pull money from other parts of the WSP budget.

Whether WSP's budget proposal is approved will be determined during the overall state budget process in this legislative session. That's supposed to end in April, but it's fairly common for it to be extended as lawmakers hash out the budget.

Secret Service

The Secret Service usually offers protection to any major candidates for president who want it.

The decision on which candidates may get that offer is made by the Secretary of Homeland Security, according to the Secret Service website.

If Inslee eventually gets such an offer, does that mean WSP can pass the reigns?

The basic answer: we don't know.

State law requires WSP to protect the governor, but that law doesn't say anything about Secret Service.

"Secret Service protection might alleviate some of the duties that we'd have, but we have not had a governor from the state of Washington run before, so we don't have hands-on experience with that," Loftis said. "We have to budget for, again, that most robust contingency."

Reimbursement

Some have suggested that the governor ought to reimburse the state for protection spending related to his campaign.

That's a move taken by some governors who have run for president in the past.

KREM 2 asked the Inslee campaign if they were considering reimbursement but the campaign did not yet respond. 

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