State Revenue Failure Prompts $3M Cut For Corrections Department

Wednesday, February 22nd 2017, 9:52 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

The state’s budget crisis met with a double whammy this week.  

Next year’s budget deficit is higher than expected, and this year’s revenues were less than expected, meaning cuts to state agencies.  

The state declared a so-called revenue failure, where revenue projections are more than 5 percent less than expected -- in this case, 5.7 percent.  

That means across the board cuts to agencies like the department of corrections.

“We are now at the point that again in my official capacity I am required to declare a revenue failure," State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger said Tuesday.  

Doerflinger added that the current budget gap has widened to $878 million for next fiscal year, and the legislature must consider increasing taxes, or agencies like the Department of Corrections could face cuts of 10 percent or more.  

"Department of corrections obviously would have difficulty catastrophic consequences not being able to pay for a private prison contractors, intensifying overcrowding," Doerflinger said.

Corrections director Joe Allbaugh is a numbers guy, and he said the numbers just don’t add up.  

"We've got 28,000 people incarcerated here in Oklahoma, 33,000 under some type of supervision or parole, and we have 260 probation officers for the supervision and 1,700 correctional officer's for 28,000," Allbaugh said.

With the revenue failure, the department will have $3 million less to work with. That $3 million, Allbaugh said, is the equivalent to two months’ worth of food for inmates.  

He said he can’t handle anymore cuts.

"I don't have beds to put people in right now. We have 1,406 today in county jail back up. Where am I supposed to put these people?" he said.