Friday, February 16, 2007

The other agency that ate the budget

The Department of Corrections. Another budget (along with the Department of Transportation's) that is eating the State of Wisconsin alive.

The governor is proposing a $288 million increase in DOC's budget for the next biennium, the second biggest increase proposed, behind the $328 million more he wants for education.

The prison system, though, chews through money as fast as it does people. A bill to reallocate money in state agencies this year was introduced this week at the request of the governor -- and DOC is the big winner. The gov wants to plump up DOC's budget by $56.3 million to pay for adult services, $6 million to pay for contract costs, and a cool million to pay for juvenile offender programs. That's a total of $63.3 million, for the arithmetically-challenged.

And if a major state industry is locking poor people up, then you need someone to defend them. The gov is seeking $9.7 million to pay for private lawyers and investigators hired through the Public Defender Board.

Atty. Gen. JB Van Hollen also wins a big prize: authorization for 15 more positions in the crime lab for DNA analysis. The additional money needed for that isn't much -- $96,600, meaning the gov doesn't expect the hiring process to be done until very, very late in the year or even next year, or the Justice Department has some money floating around somewhere to cover the cost of whoever comes on board this year.

Also on the table: A $30 million cut to the Department of Workforce Development's allocation for the earned income tax credit and a $30 million increase for its deficit ridden child-care program (indicating that neither is run very well).

The funding for the Badger Care health program would go up by $5.5 million, but would be more than offset by big cuts elsewhere in social services. The state's share of Medicaid costs would be cut by $69.7 million, funding for prescription drug assistance would be slashed by $15.7 million, money for foster care and adoption services would drop $3.1 million.

Big money for the prison system paid for by cuts to health care. No wonder young people want to get the hell out of this state.

1 comment:

Ben Masel said...

Only way to make a serious dent in the DOC budget's to roll back Truth in Sentencing. Politically touchy for Doyle since he championed its passage as AG.

He's been lucky that McCallum and Gary George snuck the repeal of Mandatory Minimum Sentences into the budget reconciliation bill just before he took office.