Saturday, April 25, 2009

Final Budget Mandates Study Of All Institutions

Whenever a budget comes out, I always make it a point to skim through the text of the actual budget bill. The Legislature is adept a slipping provisos -- instructions to agencies -- in the budget that can have a profound affect on WFSE members, and this year is no exception.

The final budget compromise this year doesn't close any institutions immediately, but a proviso has been included that appears intended to have that same effect. In the section making appropriations to the Office of Financial Management [Sec. 130] the following subsection appears:

"(4) $500,000 of the general fund--state appropriation for fiscal year 2010 is provided solely for a study of the feasibility of closing state institutional facilities and a plan on eliminating beds in the state institutional facility inventory. The office of financial management shall contract with consultants with expertise related to the subject matters included in this study. The office of financial management and the consultants shall consult with the department of social and health services, the department of corrections, stakeholder groups that represent the people served in these institutions, labor organizations that represent employees who work in these institutions and other persons or entities with expertise in the areas being studied.
(a) For the purposes of this study, "state institutional facilities" means facilities operated by the department of corrections to house persons convicted of a criminal offense, Green Hill school and Maple Lane school operated by the department of social and health services juvenile rehabilitation administration, and residential habilitation centers operated by the department of social and health services.
(b) In conducting this study, the consultants shall consider the following factors as appropriate:
(i) The availability of alternate facilities including alternatives and opportunities for consolidation with other facilities, impacts on those alternate facilities, and any related capital costs;
(ii) The cost of operating the facility, including the cost of providing services and the cost of maintaining or improving the physical plant of the facility;
(iii) The geographic factors associated with the facility, including the impact of the facility on the local economy and the economic impact of its closure, and alternative uses for a facility recommended for closure;
(iv) The costs associated with closing the facility, including the continuing costs following the closure of the facility;
(v) Number and type of staff and the impact on the facility staff including other employment opportunities if the facility is closed;
(vi) The savings that will accrue to the state from closure or consolidation of a facility and the impact any closure would have on funding the associated services; and
(vii) For the residential habilitation centers, the impact on clients in the facility being recommended for closure and their families, including ability to get alternate services and impact on being moved to another facility.
(c) The office of financial management shall submit a final report to the governor and the ways and means committees of the house of representatives and senate by November 1, 2009. The report shall provide a recommendation and a plan to eliminate 1,580 beds in the department of corrections facilities, 235 beds from juvenile rehabilitation facilities, and 250 funded beds in the residential habilitation centers through closure or consolidation of facilities. The report shall include an assessment of each facility studied, where and how the services should be provided, and any costs or savings associated with each recommendation. In considering the recommendations of the report, the governor and the legislature shall not consider closure of any state institutional facility unless the report recommended the facility for closure."

The hits just keep on coming! -- Dennis

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