HEADLINES : Michigan
Legislators wary about recovery propose big cuts for state prison system
LANSING -- The state would close and privatize a 1,300-bed prison in Ionia and three juvenile detention facilities and make significant cuts to prison support staff under budget bills moving quickly through the Legislature.
The changes are part of a budget being built by lawmakers that adds big cuts and privatization incentives to what was largely a standpat spending plan put forward by Gov. Rick Snyder.
Snyder and Budget Director John Nixon proposed a 3% bump in the general fund to $9 billion, signaling a shift to reinvestment after years of austerity. But House and Senate lawmakers -- spooked by a reported dip in anticipated state revenues -- have identified more than $100 million in additional savings.
Despite signs of a recovery, "there are a lot of unknowns out there," said Rep. Chuck Moss, R-Birmingham, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "Unknowns basically tell us that we need to be cautious."
Major changes to the budget Snyder recommended include:
• In the House version of the Department of Corrections budget, closure of the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia and shifting of its 1,300 inmates to a private prison at an estimated net savings of $7.1 million.
• In the House version of the Department of Human Services budget, closure of three juvenile justice facilities and transfer of their 90 residents to private facilities for a net savings of $4.3 million.