It is almost July 1st, and the first two budgets (out of 18) for the new year are just coming out of the Appropriations Committee. Here are a few first glances.
The two budgets that just emerged from Approps. are for Dept. of Community Health (DCH) and Dept. of Corrections (DOC). Those two budgets combined, if enacted would use $5.3 billion in general fund money. On the assumption that we enact the new business tax, we will have about $8.7 billion available. It looks like when added to all the other budgets that have not come out yet, our Democrat approps. chairman will have over $10 billion in spending plans. That's a $1.3 billion shortfall!
Here are a few details of the corrections budget:
- Overall GF spending is up by 9%.
- They start with a $76 million reduction from savings due to changes in sentencing guidelines and parole policies. (It will take about 200 bills to be passed before the new guidelines take effect and savings would be realized.)
- $1.25 million for a "Legislative Corrections Ombudsman" office. (This helps us answer mail from residents of the state prisons when they write us.)
- Additional $3.3 million for dry cleaning the guards uniforms. (Note: many county jails are going to military style "jumpsuits" for the guards. They are more comfortable, less costly and don't need to be dry cleaned.)
- $1.2 million for Dept. of Information Technology (DIT) to upgrade the phones. (Hmm...I wonder, did we bid that out?)
- While working toward the goal of reducing prison population, DOC finds it necessary to ADD 493 new employees (FTEs).
Here are a few things we are learning about the DCH budget:
- The overall budget increases general fund spending by 9%.
- Includes $26.2 million increase to fund a 4% across the board pay increase.
- Deletes childhood vaccinations (couldn't afford it, had to give everyone a raise)
Stay tuned. There is much more...