Archive for Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kansas corrections chief says, depending on budget situation, he may ask to close prison

December 15, 2009


— More state budget cuts could result in shutting down a prison or releasing hundreds of offenders from parole supervision, Kansas Secretary of Corrections Roger Werholtz said Tuesday.

Werholtz’s dire warning to the Senate Ways and Means Committee was typical of testimony given by other agency chiefs in areas of health care, social services and highways as state lawmakers confront an unprecedented budget crisis.

“It’s not a good picture,” said Committee Chairman Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg. Emler said that while most lawmakers probably oppose any kind of tax increase to shore up the budget, “It’s something that is going to have to be discussed.”

The 2010 legislative session starts Jan. 11.

Even after several rounds of budget cuts that have led to layoffs, shuttered corrections facilities, longer waiting lists for health care services, and a wide-range of reductions in education, the state will still face a $359 million general revenue shortfall, or 6.5 percent, in the next fiscal year, officials said.

Werholtz said he has already lost 90 percent of state funding for programs aimed at reducing repeat offenders, such as sexual offender treatment, drug abuse treatment and vocational education.

If Corrections has to cut more to comply with a further reduction target from the Division of the Budget, Werholtz said he will have to virtually eliminate parole supervision or seek legislative approval to shut down the Winfield Correctional Facility.

Gov. Mark Parkinson’s budget director Duane Goossen told the committee, “We face a very difficult budget.”

The looming revenue shortfall is exacerbated by the fact that caseloads are increasing for Medicaid services, the state will have to resume paying principal on debt service, and there is less federal stimulus funding available. State government has suffered an unprecedented two consecutive years of falling tax revenue, and projections show that that revenues could drop for an additional two years.

“It’s going to be devastating,” said state Sen. Janis Lee, D-Kensington.

Lee said she is hearing that after Parkinson’s recent 10 percent cut to Medicaid, some nursing homes have said they won’t accept anymore Medicaid clients.

And Goossen said some physicians may decide not to accept Medicaid patients.

“Every one of these cuts has consequences,” he said. “They are deeper than anyone wishes that we need to go. The results from doing this are not positive things; they are almost entirely negative things.”

Andrew Allison, acting director of the Kansas Health Policy Authority, said he is concerned the cuts will jeopardize millions of dollars in federal funding because it will increase the waiting time for eligible Kansans to receive Medicaid coverage.

“We’re concerned about complying with federal rules on Medicaid,” Allison said.

KHPA has cut 20 percent of its administrative budget, and has drastically reduced funding to its contractors that process Medicaid applications and handle consumer questions and claim issues from doctors and other providers.

Lee said the state budget cuts on health services will mean more uninsured people will seek health care in emergency rooms. “We are pushing the burden onto local taxpayers,” she said.

The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has seen its budget cut 15.7 percent, including an $11 million cut to community mental health centers. SRS Secretary Don Jordan said that means nearly 4,000 people will see services reduced or eliminated at those centers. Meanwhile, the number of people seeking food stamps has increased approximately 30 percent in the past two years, he said.

Kansas Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller said the budget cuts have reduced highway funding to 1989 levels and will hurt efforts this winter to clear roads of snow and ice.

“Every day we pray to the snow gods that they will be kind to us,” Miller said.


gladiatr 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm gong to LMFAO when a republican-controlled state legislature decides to raise a tax or two. And I'm not talking about vice taxes. I'm talkin' about the kind that Fine, Upstanding, Middle-Class White People (like myself... well, mostly...) have to pay.

energy03 8 years, 5 months ago

You know...since we (the state) is in such a financial crunch, how about we put those incarcerated to work for some of that tax payer financed room & board. What ever happened to the chain gangs? Adopt a Highway? We have prisons full of individuals capable of contributing to their expense. I have to work to pay taxes to take care of their rears, why are they not required to work to take care of them selfs? Does anyone have the stats on what it costs to house a single inmate? I do know it's a ridiculous amount.

ilovetocook 8 years, 5 months ago

Kansas had a chance to receive a large amount of federal funding which would have led to the creation of good paying jobs by housing the Gitmo detainees at Fort Leavenworth but Roberts and Brownback cared more about being obstructionists than helping the Kansas economy. Thanks Sam and Pat.

Clare Galloway 8 years, 5 months ago

to energy-i know that inmates in Eldorado do work and get paid better then i do-they only pay their child support and have money left for savings !!!!--i cant pay my stuff and i am not a criminal and its hard to keep a roof over me and my family head and then i hear of inmates that do work and it just ticks me off--i have to pay for them and they have a better job then i do and they dont have to pay for their room and board--or medical !!! whats wrong here ???

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

The simple solution is an across-the-board 7 percent cut. Stop picking and choosing which agency will take the biggest hit.

prairierose54 8 years, 5 months ago

On the national news last night they intereviewed the mayor of the town where the Gitmo people are going.

That town couldn't be happier with the millions of dollars coming into their area.

Thank goodness our reps kept all that federal money out of LOL!

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 5 months ago

Yes, another across the board cut is a simple solution. Why hasn't anyone thought of that before, with the exception of the four across the board cuts which have already occurred over the past year and a half?

Of course, that simple solution will lead to the immediate release of convicts into our communities. And who needs parole supervisors? Just another example of too much government intervention into our lives.

Parolees should be given the personal freedom to supervise themselves. Seven year olds should likewise be given the personal freedom to educate themselves. Our class sizes are too small and we have too many school buildings and teachers.

Gosh darnit, government is just like any other for-profit business that is having to live within its means.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 5 months ago

maybe we should reconsider what constitutes a crime against individuals and society. seems that we spend a lot of money going after marijuana users, that could be better spent working towards addressing real issues like murder, rape and molestations. why does the government spend more than $12 Billion dollars annually to arrest pot smokers, when they can't afford to keep locking of pedophiles?

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 5 months ago

It is almost impossible for a felon to get a job or housing which I think is wrong. How do we expect people to change unless someone is willing to give them a chance. I say hire them and give them six weeks to prove they can do the job. I know that several people at the Salvation Army shelter had this problem and were extremely frustrated. I also know that when a man came by to offer construction jobs, some young men in their twenties just looked at the floor.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 5 months ago

what's wrong with having an agenda Thing? most people do. I don't cloak mine or pretend it's something that it's not. NORML is an outstanding organization with a very real and important agenda. I'm glad to be a part of it.

puddleglum 8 years, 5 months ago

i dont hire felons....they are bad people.

whats the hold-up? let 'em out. if they wanna cause problems-shoot 'em. just make them run around with a 14" reflective-green dollar-sign patch on their back. Make it a death-sentence if they attempt to remove or are caught without the patch. Now that they are readily identifiable, anyone breaking law with said patch is fair game to anyone who wants to shoot them on the spot. no courts, no problems. let's Roll! puddleglum for governor 2010

notajayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Bob_Keeshan (Anonymous) says…

"Gosh darnit, government is just like any other for-profit business that is having to live within its means."

Heavy on the sarcasm today, bobbie. Sounds like someone is worried about losing their state job.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 5 months ago

notajayhawk, I thought I worked for the federal government.

So difficult to keep your rants straight. Sounds like somebody is worried about losing their precious interstate highway.

verity 8 years, 5 months ago

Puddleglum for Governor

Your slogan can be

"Can't be any worse than Brownback!"

Voiceforreal 8 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Voiceforreal 8 years, 5 months ago

this is bull that my comint we removed

some one need to speak up and say what need to be said

notajayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Bob_Keeshan (Anonymous) says…

"notajayhawk, I thought I worked for the federal government."

You don't know where you work, bobbie, and I'M the one ranting?

Stuart Evans 8 years, 5 months ago

Voiceforreal (Anonymous) says… this is bull that my comint we removed some one need to speak up and say what need to be said

perhaps you could articulate your point somehow within the guidelines of LJWorld. If it needed to be said, I'd love to hear it.

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