Notes from the Senate
by Emanuel County Live | October 30, 2006 12:00 am
By SEN. JACK HILL 4th DISTRICT Criminal Justice Sub- Committee – Budget Requests – Continued
BY SEN. JACK HILL 4th DISTRICT Criminal Justice Sub- Committee – Budget Requests – Continued
Previously, we reviewed the Department of Correction’s budget requests. This week we will review the offline requests from the State Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Department of Juvenile Justice within the scope of the Senate Criminal Justice Sub-Committee of Appropriations, Chaired by Senator Bill Hamrick.
Clemency Online Navigation System (CONS)
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles has made an offline request of $986,055 to complete their conversion from a paper driven business process to the Clemency Online Navigation System, an online database. This new CONS system will provide the Board with electronic voting capability, reduce the amount of paper files and storage space needed, allow for easier access of case materials throughout the state, and provide for a source of data that will be used to more effectively analyze factors for a parolee release. Full implementation of this project is estimated to take between 24 to 30 months to complete. The Board believes this will not only result in cost savings for their agency but it will also assist the Department of Corrections in more accurately projecting prison populations.
Community Supervision and Safety
The Department of Juvenile Justice is requesting $3.9 million to support their goals of a reduction in recidivism and proper youth supervision in the community. Of this $3.2 million will be used to increase the number of Juvenile Probation and Parole Officers by 67 with the hopes of reducing caseloads and increasing levels of supervision. The Department will use a little over $500,000 to provide diversion and intervention services to at-risk youth. They cite the greatest need for these services are in rural communities who do not have access to these prevention programs. The remaining $160,000 will expand electronic monitoring in communities which will allow more youth to be monitored in their communities instead of being placed in a Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC) or Youth Development Campus (YDC).
Education and Treatment Programs
The Department’s offline request of $1.6 million for education and treatment programs includes $385,000 to expand the 21st Century After School Program. This is a cooperative program between the Department and local technical colleges that provides youth with additional educational opportunities after regular school hours. The “Think Exit at Entry” program is requesting $600,000 to continue its operations. This student transition program provides youth committed to an YDC or
RYDC with vocational classes, job skills, work experience and guidance in hopes of preparing them for a successful transition into the community. The Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program at the Bill Ireland Youth Detention Center is requesting $625,000 in state funds to replace federal funding that has been eliminated. Without these funds the Department claims that substance abuse treatment and education programs will not be continued.
Along with the offline requests mentioned the Department has requested additional Juvenile Correctional Officer positions, food service positions, housekeeping positions, medical staff and registered nurses. The Department is also requesting almost $6 million in annualizers for various contracts such as the Savannah Youth Development Campus contract with Savannah River Challenge Program.
Capital Outlay Requests
The Department of Juvenile Justice has also requested over $30 million in capital outlay requests. The infrastructure of the Department of Juvenile Justice has a value in excess of $320 million consisting of eight Youth Development Centers and twenty-two Regional Youth Development Centers. The Department needs to repair and maintain these facilities to remain in good standing with the Federal Monitor and comply with their Memorandum of Agreement
with the U.S. Department of Justice. One of the RYDCs that the Department is requesting funds for is the Claxton RYDC. The request for the facility is $20,000 to design plans that add space for 20 beds at the Medical Education Building.
Every month, I report to you the revenue amounts collected by the Department of Revenue. Looking at just these revenue sources, the SFY2007 budget requires $16.63 billion to be collected. At the end of SFY 2006, which ended on June 30th, the Department reported that for the fiscal year, Georgia had brought in $16.39 billion. This means we have to raise approximately 1.5% more in SFY2007 than we did in SFY2006.
But the 1.5% figure is a little misleading. One percent of the previous year’s revenue is required to fund K-12 education needs (mainly enrollment growth). Also to bring our reserves up to around 5%, we will require an addition percentage point. This means that revenue will have to grow approximately 3.5% to meet the budget the state started operating under in July.
I want to hear from you! I may be reached at 234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334 (404) 656-5038 (phone); (404) 657-7094 (fax); e-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov; or Call Toll-Free 1-800- 367-3334 day or night. Reidsville: (912) 557- 3811.