Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Senate Discusses Budgets and Programs of Criminal Justice

The joint Senate Appropriations subcommittee continued its meeting series today with the Criminal Justice subcommittee and the Best Value in Government Task Force joint workshop at the Capitol. The subcommittee discussed agency reports, efficiencies, and cost savings for the Department of Pardons and Paroles and the Department of Corrections (DOC). Senators Johnny Grant (R- Milledgeville) and Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) co-chaired the meeting.

“As we go through these budgets to eliminate non-essential spending, we must keep in mind the well-being of our state,” said Seabaugh. “We cannot cut budgets at the risk of citizen protection from violent offenders.”

Each agency presented an overview of programs, efficiencies, and cost savings that have been implemented. The current budgets were submitted and several agencies were asked to provide further detailed information on particular programs or services. Members of the committee focused on uncovering duplicated services and redundancies between agencies.

Several issues discussed today were the DOC’s ongoing facility upgrades intended to reduce their operating budget and the Department of Pardons and Paroles converting to an electronic filing system to manage their caseload more efficiently. During the meeting, the committee encouraged agencies to consider the cost benefit of outsourcing several of their essential functions, prisons becoming more self-sufficient through inmate labor, and combining resources with other state agencies to streamline expenditures.

Additional joint workshops are scheduled through mid-December. Topics for those meetings include natural resources and agriculture, health, education and fiscal management. The workshops are being held at the request of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, who has charged the Senate to proactively identify non-essential government services and maximize efficiency and value in our state government.
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