Proos: Corrections 2013 budget stops annual increases; cuts $67.3 million from governor’s recommendation

LANSING – After the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of Corrections approved a 2013 budget on Tuesday that protects public safety while spending $67.3 million less than the governor’s recommendation, Sen. John Proos, chair of the subcommittee, issued the following statement:

“This plan protects public safety and forces the Corrections Department to live within its means by addressing the ballooning costs in its budget. This plan is a cut of $17.3 million from the current budget and $67.3 million less than the governor’s recommendation.

“We must better align the service provided to the cost. Michigan’s prison populations have decreased by 8,000 in five years and we have closed 14 facilities, yet Corrections still employs one-third of all state employees and their costs keep going up.

“This budget is a step toward bringing Michigan’s costs in line with surrounding states. We have reduced unnecessary administration like multiple secretaries and word processing assistants, and we have been innovative to ensure taxpayers are getting the most value for their dollar. 

“As subcommittee chair, I have proposed two new ways to save money. The first is to expand the Swift and Sure Sanctions program, which is a system of supervising high-risk probationers and requiring them to undergo frequent, random drug and alcohol testing that results in guaranteed treatment decisions based on the probationer’s behavior. If expanded statewide, this reform is expected to save an estimated $25 million annually.

“The second will be to increase the ability of the Department of Corrections to competitively bid food services, beds and prison stores.

“This budget approach will help us provide safety in a more cost-effective manner and enable the state to focus resources on other priorities, like education and roads. In many instances schools across our state have had to reduce important positions such as librarians. Prisoners should not be given luxuries that our students are not receiving, which is why I have included the elimination of prison library staff in my budget recommendation – saving taxpayers $5.6 million.”

The subcommittee’s Corrections budget recommendation, Senate Bill 951, has been sent to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

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Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sen. Proos will be available in the morning on the senator’s website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.”