Proos: Corrections 2012 budget cuts $101 million


LANSING – The Senate Appropriations Department of Corrections Subcommittee approved a 2012 budget Thursday that protects public safety while spending $100 million less than the department’s current-year budget and $75 million less than the governor proposed, said Sen. John Proos, chair of the subcommittee.

“Public safety continues to be the number one priority in this budget,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This budget plan is the result of months of hard work to eliminate wasteful spending and make the department more efficient.  In doing so we have crafted a budget that will keep violent felons off the street and also help solve the state’s budget deficit.”

Senate Bill 173, the DOC budget as approved by the subcommittee, would spend a total of $1.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2012, a reduction of more than $101 million from the current 2011 budget.  The plan would achieve most of the savings through efficiencies and by closing the Florence Crane prison in Coldwater.

“Savings can be found in Corrections and throughout all state government,” Proos said.  “For example, the department has identified $42 million in health care savings to ensure they will not overspend this year. This is a break from the last few years of overspending their budget and relying on the Legislature to bail out the department. It is a positive sign for taxpayers.”

Proos added:  “I look forward to working with the department to find the real savings that our taxpayers deserve.  Toward that goal, this budget saves millions through supply-chain efficiencies, administrative reductions and addressing prescription drug management problems identified by the state auditor general.”

SB 173 includes a major policy initiative by transferring $1 million to the Judiciary for a new “swift-and-sure” pilot program in cooperation with the state’s drug courts.  “Swift-and-sure” is a program of sanctions resulting in jail time for certain probation violations to ensure public safety in a cost-effective manner.

“Michigan spends 94 dollars on each prisoner per day, while the average Great Lakes state spends about 75 dollars,” Proos said.  “This plan is a first step to seriously addressing those costs and right-sizing our prison spending.  For Michigan to compete in the 21st Century economy, we cannot continue spending more on corrections than higher education or economic development.”

The Corrections budget has been sent to the full Senate Appropriations Committee, which is expected to take up the plan for consideration later this month.