SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM) — With gas prices in the stratosphere, even the Illinois State Police have to watch how much gas you use.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Patrick Keen, the interim director of the state police, was talking about ways to save money on gas Wednesday when he went before a Senate appropriations committee in Springfield.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

Newsradio 780’s Alex Degman reports the department is asking for roughly $402 million next fiscal year, which is slightly less than it was promised this year.

Keen says his budget he proposed was based on gas prices hovering around $3.35 a gallon, when obviously, it’s much higher than that now.

“We may have to ask officers on patrol now to sit in the median with their cars turned off for maybe 15 minutes out of every hour,” Keen said.

The last time state troopers were asked to do that was in 2008, when gas prices soared well above $4 per gallon during the summer.

One area where Keen will not cut back, however, is trooper salaries.

New officers earn a little more than $54,000 a year, which is between $14,000 and $20,000 higher than neighboring states. State Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) asked Keen how the department came up with that salary level.

“Of the states that you mentioned, Illinois is the only one that has a bachelor’s degree requirement for hiring,” explained Keen. “In order to attract those qualified individuals, our salaries have grown. Starting salaries are also the result of collective bargaining.”