The overall Justice and Public Safety (JPS) budget was reduced by about 3 percent compared to the spending plan put in place as the second year of the two-year budget approved last year.
As with the Senate and House JPS budgets, the majority of appropriations shifting occurs within the Department of Corrections, the largest department in JPS. On net, the JPS budget creates 802 new positions, most of which coming in the Department of Corrections to staff a new Central Prison Hospital and Mental Health Facility and Women’s Prison Hospital. The largest spending reductions come from inmate medical cost savings and a lower-than-projected inmate population.
The most significant difference between the final JPS budget and the House and Senate versions is that the final budget includes a more modest reduction to the Department of Corrections budget. The reductions were put in place because of a lower-than-expected inmate population at the time the respective legislative bodies crafted their budget plans. The final budget will reduce the Corrections budget $5 million less than requested in the House plan and $17 million less than recommended in the Senate plan.
Other notable discrepancies between the final JPS budget and the House and Senate proposals include the $3.5 million expansion to restore the Samackland Youth Development Center, which was included in the House budget but was absent from the Senate budget
Significant expansions and reductions include:
- $8 million to the operating reserves at the Central and Women Prisons’ hospitals
- $3.5 million to restore the Samackland Youth Development Center. This is an alternative correctional facility for juvenile offenders.
- $2.2 million to restore the Sentencing Services program as requested by the Governor and proposed by both the Senate and the House budgets.
- $22 million from the Department of Corrections because of lower than expected inmate population. This reduction is less than those found in both the Senate and House budgets.
- $20.5 million in savings from linking inmate medical costs to a fee schedule based on rates authorized by Medicaid.
- $6 million from the Private Assigned Counsel (PAC) program. PAC consists of private legal counsels who have been assigned to provide indigent legal services.
- $3.7 million from the technology services program and administration budgets of the Judicial Department. This is a smaller reduction than proposed in either the Senate or House budgets.