Gov. Pete Ricketts says he understands more money will have to be spent on Corrections to address problems which have arisen in the state prison system.
Ricketts backs the budget proposal submitted by Corrections Director Scott Frakes.
“So, I think what we see here with the budget proposal from Corrections is we know that we’re going to have to make continued investments in Corrections and it’s not something that we’re going to be able to change overnight and that Dir. Frakes has put forward a proposal that’s very thoughtful about how we address some of the issues we’ve got in Corrections,” Ricketts tells reporters during a news conference on another topic at the Capitol.
The budget submitted by Frakes requests the Unicameral approve the addition of 164 staff, $700,000 for more inmate programming, and $75 million dollars for a new facility to handle seriously ill and aging inmates.
The request for increased spending on the Department of Correctional Services comes even as state lawmakers face a possible budget shortfall for the upcoming two-year state budget.
Ricketts, who has said he wants additional tax relief, says the upcoming legislative session will confront budget challenges.
“Well, I think the budget is a challenge every year,” Ricketts says. “Certainly, if we see revenues continue to forecast to be down or flat it’s going to be a challenge and, of course, we’ll find out more when the Forecasting Board meets again in October.”
Frakes wants an additional $15.6 million to boost the department’s total budget to $223 million.
The Legislative Fiscal Office projects a $113.7 million budget shortfall at the end of the current fiscal year, June 30th of 2017. The projected shortfall for the next two-year budget cycle which ends June 30th of 2019 is $352.7 million.