DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A bill speeding through the Texas legislature has some Dallas Police officers excited, believing it could be the solution to the manpower shortages its department is facing along with other Texas cities.

The legislation, if approved, would pay off student loan debt to graduates who choose a career in law enforcement.

The Dallas Police Association came up with the idea and got local legislators on board.

The bills in the Texas House and Senate are called the Peace Officer Loan Repayment Officer Assistance Program.

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It would only impact new hires and those who qualify must have a minimum 60 hours completed.

The state would pay off 20 percent of the outstanding student loan after each year.

The recipients would have to be employed by a state approved law enforcement agency and the maximum amount of the pay off would not exceed $20,000.

With both Dallas and Houston more than 1,000 officers or short of what those cities need, there’s hope this idea could make a big difference.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction so I’m ecstatic that the legislature has looked at this, has helped us push this bill through,” said Dallas Police Association President Michael Mata. “Huge huge asset to the city Dallas and every major city in Texas.”

Susan Hoff, who oversees job placement agencies for the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, believes its an idea that could lure people to careers in law enforcement. 

“Investments like this really tend to incentivize folks to go into professions where sometimes they are making a choice to go into a job that maybe isn’t the highest paying job in the world, but they are invested and want to help their community and we know these incentives help folks like that,” said Hoff.