Members of the state Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus are going to bat for members of the state Police Benevolent Association in the budget for the first time — showing a rare unity between downstate lawmakers and law enforcement.

PBA members, or the labor union that represents about 1,200 state parks police, ENCON officers, forest rangers and university police say it's time for Gov. Kathy Hochul to keep her promise and allow them to retire after 20 years like most other law enforcement across New York.

There's talks to change their pension in the budget to a 20-year retirement system like most other police agencies in the state, down from their current 25-year model.

Police say those five years are critical in their traumatic line of work.

"We're on ATVs, we're on snowmobiles, we're outside... We're carrying injured people outside off the mountains, so it's a younger person's game," said Matthew Krug, the PBA's legislative committee chair.

Krug said two veteran officers resigned for other law enforcement agencies within the last month, citing the retirement issue. The disparity has led to the loss of hundreds of officers in the last three years, threatening public safety at state beaches, parks and universities.

The BPHA Caucus threw support behind the proposal within the last few weeks after it was included in both the Senate and Assembly's one-house budgets —  giving police hope it will make the final spending plan.

Caucus chair Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages says fixing the retirement system is part of healthy community policing strategies, and will help strengthen relationships between civilians and law enforcement.

"Let's just give them the retirement parity that they deserve, and really applaud them in the way that they need," Solages told Spectrum News 1.

Hochul has vetoed legislation three times — most recently this past December — that passed the Legislature nearly unanimously to give the specialized police a 20-year retirement. A 20-year pension for the PBA is estimated to cost the state $8 million a year, and the governor has argued the change must be negotiated within the budget, but then has not included it.

Lawmakers in Albany have a tough time compromising on criminal justice proposals — especially in a critical election year for the Legislature. But the support of the politically powerful caucus could be the push the initiative needs to get it over the finish line.

Solages said it's disappointing how politics have impeded conversations — and action — with lawmakers who have opposing viewpoints.

"When there's a segment of law enforcement that actually needs our support, and there's something tangible that we could do for them and we're not doing it... it's just like, we can't talk out of the both sides of our mouth," Solages said.

Union members have lobbied lawmakers, legislative leaders and the Second Floor after both chambers of the Legislature included the bill in their one-house budgets.

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo also vetoed legislation to bring the PBA to a 20-year retirement system several years ago. No governor has included the pension change in their budget to date.

PBA President Jim McCartney said time is of the essence as more officers leave for agencies with 20-year retirement plans.

"We're hoping it is their priority by including it," McCartney said. "Because it's great to put it in [the one-house], but if it doesn't get in it, then it really doesn't help us."