Proos: Huge savings to come from contracting prison food services

LANSING—Sen. John Proos, chair of the Senate Appropriations Department of Corrections (DOC) subcommittee, issued the following statement after a meeting with DOC director Dan Heyns, in which the director said that after receiving multiple bids to provide the service, the DOC will be contracting out food service in Michigan state prisons:

“This is a victory for Michigan taxpayers and families. I have long been a leader in calling for this type of savings because it will help us reduce our prison costs by an estimated $16 million, or 20 percent of what the state currently spends on food service.

“Although prison populations have decreased, the costs keep going up. This is a major move by the department that will help bring Michigan’s per-prisoner costs in line with surrounding states. It will also ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently.

“I have worked to ensure that the bidding process is transparent and fair and that there is an apples-to-apples comparison between the state and private companies. Under private food service management, the contractor plans to retain 85 to 90 percent of current employees.

“In the future, if the state can provide better value for our taxpayers, then they will receive the contract. In the meantime, we must find ways to reduce prison costs to enable us to focus our limited resources on other priorities, like infrastructure and education.”

After Proos’ conversation with the DOC director, the Michigan Senate approved Senate Bill 197, the Fiscal Year 2013 DOC budget. SB 197 now heads to the House for consideration.

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