Prison budget OK’d by Nevada Legislature committees

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The joint Senate Finance/Assembly Ways and Means committees Saturday approved a Department of Corrections budget that forecasts a shortage of inmate beds totaling 193 beds in 2018 and 379 beds in 2019.

Fiscal staff advised lawmakers there are several initiatives in the Parole and Probation division that may reduce the bed shortage by 131 in 2018 and 375 in 2019. But Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said that only eliminates the shortfall in the first year.

“I’m concerned about budgeting a shortfall in the second year of the biennium,” he said.

That shortage of beds, however, may be nearly eliminated by the decision to transfer 200 inmates out of state to a privately contracted prison using $11.4 million in General Fund money.

Director of Corrections James Dzurenda has said his intention is to move many inmates who are currently single-celled out of state, which means those cells could each be filled with two inmates instead of just one.

The total prisons budget for the coming biennium is $688.4 million, the vast majority of it General Fund money.

The budget includes $34.6 million for prison medical services.

The plan includes adding 10 guards and one caseworker specialist to open Housing Unit 10 at Florence McClure, the women’s prison in North Las Vegas.

The female population is also exceeding projections that were used to build the current budget but that institution has an additional unit to handle the overflow.

Lawmakers approved several significant additions to the Parole and Probation staff including 31 non-sworn staff. They also added a total of 24 full time DPS sworn officers and a sergeant. They added an additional sergeant, five officers and two P&P specialists to offender intervention and incarceration alternatives — creating and staffing Day Reporting Centers for parolees.

Total P&P funding in the budget for the coming biennium is $115.3 million.

Finally, the two committees approved a total of $62 million to fund juvenile justice institutions around the state. Those institutions include China Spring for boys and Aurora Pines for girls in Douglas County, Summit View and Spring Mountain in Clark County, Caliente in Lincoln County and the Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko.

The committees also voted to adopt subcommittee decisions on major budgets including K-12 Education and Capital Improvement Projects.

They approved a $6.37 billion K-12 education budget that includes $3.16 billion directly from the state and another $3.26 billion from sales and property taxes. The State General Fund accounts for $2.3 billion of the total.

The budget provides $5,900 per pupil in base funding for 2018 and $5,967 per pupil in 2019.

The CIP budget totals $346.5 million over the next two years to cover construction and maintenance of state property. For Carson City, that list includes the Stewart complex’s Cultural Center and Welcome Center as well as roof replacement and seismic stabilization of the roof of the historic old gymnasium — a total of $5.85 million worth of work.

It also includes $1.7 million to finally demolish the long-vacant Kinkead Building plus millions for major projects in Northern Nevada including the $84.7 million UNR engineering building, $36 million for a Northern Nevada Veterans Home, $42 million for a new south Reno DMV building and $1.87 million to do major restoration and repairs to the exterior of the state Capitol.


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