AFA Update: Friday, February 13, 2015- Supplemental bill work sessions, action on County Jails

Appropriations held work sessions on the following current fiscal year supplemental bills today:

The audio of today’s hearing is here.

LD 234- General operations

Rep. Martin proposed an alternative to Sen. Hamper’s proposal to place county jails into receivership. The language below sets out an interim process where the Department of Corrections will assume responsibility for the joint operations of county jails through June 30, 2015.

LD 234

Rep. Martin Proposed Amendment Amend LD 234 to Add the Following Part:

Part I Sec. I-1. 34-A M.R.S. §1816 is enacted to read:

  1. Interim discharging of the duties of the Board of Corrections. The Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, or their designee, is responsible for distributing fiscal year 2014-15 supplemental payments to support county jail operations. The Commissioner or their designee shall also assume the powers and duties of the State Board of Corrections to June 30, 2015.
  2. Administrative Support. The Commissioner or designee may request the assistance of the Office of the Attorney General and other agencies of the State or the counties whenever necessary. The department shall provide administrative support for the operations of the board, including but not limited to filing public notices, taking meeting minutes and recording decisions.

Sec. I-2. 34-A M.R.S. §1803 is amended to read:

  1. Stay of the Powers and Duties of the Board of Corrections. Upon the effective date of this Act, the responsibilities of the members of the State Board of Corrections shall be stayed until June 30, 2015.

Sec. I-3. Appropriations and allocations. The following appropriations and allocations are made.

CORRECTIONS, STATE BOARD OF

State Board of Corrections Investment Fund Z087

Initiative: Provides one-time funding for an anticipated shortfall in fiscal year 2014-15.

GENERAL FUND

All Other

GENERAL FUND                                                                   TOTAL

2013-14                                   2014-15

$0                                            $2,488,000 $0                         $2,488,000

Rep. Martin referred to a request for supplemental funds for this year by county jails. Below is the text of a draft request from the State Board of Corrections for those supplemental funds.

The Board of Corrections is requesting $2,488,000 in supplemental funding for the current fiscal year (2015). The following is a jail-by-jail breakdown of the necessary supplemental funding amount and supporting justification:

✓ Aroostook County jail will require $782,000 to continue operating through June 30, 2015

▪ Cash situation:

o Operating funds will run-out in March 2015;

o The jail does not have any reserve funds to utilize;

o In FY14, the jail required $691,065 in supplemental funds;

▪ Causes of supplemental need:

o Increased inmate population (average 15 more inmates per day);

o Increased over-time costs;

o Increased employee medical costs;

o Increased inmate medical costs;

o Increased inmate food costs;

o Increased utility costs;

▪ Impact of no supplemental funding:

o Jail closure;

  • Approximately 90 inmates needing transfer to another jail or release to the community;
  • Approximately 45 staff laid off;

✓ Cumberland County jail will require $596,000 to continue operating through June 30, 2015

▪ Cash situation:

o Operating funds will run-out in June 2015;

o The jail is already utilizing reserve funds in FY15, and remaining reserve funds are committed for other purposes;

▪ Causes of supplemental need:

o Decreased boarding revenue from federal and state boarders;

▪ Impact of no supplemental funding (see attached letter from Sheriff Kevin Joyce):

o Option 1:

  • Closure of the Community Corrections Center;

o Option 2:

  • Closure of a jail pod holding 86 county inmates, needing transfer to another jail or release;
  • Eliminate six (6) FTE

✓ Penobscot County jail will require $563,000 to continue operating through June 30, 2015

▪ Cash situation:

o Operating funds will run-out in May 2015;

o The jail has approximately $100,000 in an unassigned reserve fund utilized for contingency/emergency capital needs;

▪ Causes of supplemental need:

o Decreased boarding revenue from federal boarders;

o Emergency elevator repair in November 2014;

o Increased inmate population and severe overcrowding (averaging 30 inmates over jail capacity, per day);

o Increased over-time costs;

o Increased pre-trial contract expenditures due to increased population;

o Increased utility costs;

o Increased inmate medical and food costs;

▪ Impact of no supplemental funding:

o Elimination of the regional inmate transportation hub;

o Elimination of pre-trial services contract;

o Layoff of staff;

✓ York County jail will require $396,000 to continue operating through June 30, 2015

▪ Cash situation:

o Operating funds will run-out in June 2015;

o The jail utilized its reserve funds in FY14 and has no remaining reserve funds;

o In FY14, the jail required $149,597 in supplemental funds;

▪ Causes of supplemental need:

o Increased inmate population (averaged 25 more inmates per day);

o Emergency repair of heating system in 2014;

o Increased over-time costs due to short-staffing;

▪ Impact of no supplemental funding:

o Layoff of staff;

✓ Androscoggin County jail will require $151,000 to continue operating through June 30, 2015

▪ Cash situation:

o Operating funds will run-out in June 2015;

o The jail has approximately $22,000 in an unassigned reserve fund utilized for contingency/emergency capital needs

o In FY14, the jail required $99,910 in supplemental funds;

▪ Causes of supplemental need:

o Increased inmate population;

o Increased employee medical costs;

o Increased inmate medical and food costs;

▪ Impact of no supplemental funding:

o Layoff of staff;

Reps. Timberlake and Sirocki raised the possibility of using funds set aside for the eventual construction of a separate women’s facility in Windham as well other capital needs instead of surplus revenues as proposed by the Governor.

It was made clear that the authority being designated is to distribute funds on a short term basis, not to remove programs from individual counties. It was also noted that had the Governor followed the law and made his appointments, this action would be unnecessary.

The committee unanimously approved Rep. Martin’s amendment to LD 234.

In a subsequent motion the committee unanimously approved the entire bill as amended with Rep. Martin’s amendment.

LD 236- HHS

Returning in the afternoon AFA considered the report of the Health and Human Services (HHS) committee on the DHHS supplemental, LD 236. The documents provided are a memo and a vote sheet.

The three major points of discussion and disagreement in the HHS report back were:

  • Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC) staffing
  • $20M payment initiative
  • $7M sweep from the Fund for a Healthy Maine

Most of the AFA discussion centered on the request for 29 new positions at RPC.  This discussion will be continued at further work session next Wednesday, February 18.

LD 232- AG and Judiciary

The committee held a brief discussion on this bill.  Things that concern members of the committee include:

  • The Governor’s continued refusal to sign financial orders providing for necessary positions and funding at the Office of the Attorney General
  • The Judiciary’s request for significant funds to operate brand new facilities whose costs appear to have not been anticipated in budgets

This bill will receive greater discussion on Tuesday, February 17, 2015.

Schedule

In addition to the work sessions mentioned above public hearings on the tax portions of the Governor’s proposed biennial budget begin on Tuesday next week.

Tuesday afternoon AFA and Tax will hear testimony on the proposed changes to personal and corporate income tax as well as the elimination of the estate tax.

Wednesday afternoon they will entertain the proposed elimination of Revenue Sharing

Thursday morning is slated for changes to BETR and BETE, while the afternoon is given over to property tax proposals.

The full schedule is available here.

You can listen to the hearing here.

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