Senate panel approves 2013 Corrections budget

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LANSING – Sen. John Proos’ 2013 Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) budget plan to protect public safety while spending $72.5 million less than the governor’s recommendation was approved Wednesday by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“This plan will help us provide safety in a more cost-effective manner and address the escalating costs within the Corrections budget,” said Proos, chair of the Senate Appropriations DOC subcommittee. “While Michigan’s prison populations have decreased by 8,000 in five years and 14 facilities have closed, Corrections costs keep going up. This budget stops that cycle and is a step toward bringing Michigan’s costs in line with surrounding states.”

Senate Bill 951 would spend a total of $1.992 billion in Fiscal Year 2013, a reduction of more than $22.5 million from the current budget and $72.5 million less than the governor’s proposal.

“We must reduce prison costs to enable the state to focus resources on other priorities, like education,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This plan would achieve savings through reforms and reducing unnecessary administration like multiple secretaries and word processing assistants.

“While many schools across our state have had to reduce helpful positions like librarians, our prisons have not. Prisoners should not be given luxuries that our students are not receiving, so this budget eliminates prison library staff – saving taxpayers $5.6 million.”

The “Swift-and-Sure” Sanctions program would be expanded to allow 29 counties with drug courts or combined courts to apply for $6 million in grant funding. Based on a successful Hawaii system, the program supervises high-risk probationers and requires them to undergo frequent, random drug and alcohol testing that results in better treatment decisions and reduced costs.

“We have been innovative to make sure taxpayers are getting the most value for their dollar,” Proos said. “Once expanded statewide, the Swift-and-Sure program is estimated to save taxpayers $25 million annually. Increasing the ability of the Corrections Department to competitively bid food services, beds and prison stores will ensure the most efficient service possible.”

SB 951 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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

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