The legislative money committees cut $31.7 million in the General Fund from the Department of Corrections budget Friday.
They made the decision after being told experts project a 2,428 reduction in the inmate population over the coming biennium.
If correct, the prison system will have just 11,319 inmates by the end of fiscal 2023.
The reduction saves $15.8 million in 2022 and $15.9 million in 2023.
But to hedge their bets, the joint Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees put $5.6 million in 2022 and $6.2 million in 2023 in the Interim Finance Committee contingency account in case those reductions don’t materialize.
The corrections budget is almost entirely paid for out of the General Fund.
Lawmakers also agreed with the Governor’s Finance Office to have corrections study whether Ely State Prison should be converted to a medium security facility with High Desert Prison in Southern Nevada turned into the state’s maximum security prison. Ely has been plagued by the challenge of getting and keeping the staff needed to run a maximum security prison since it was opened in the 1980s.
The issue will be considered in the 2025 Legislature after prison officials complete their evaluation.
The joint committee also supported spending $289,000 for a department-wide staffing study. The governor’s recommended budget asked for the study to provide an objective assessment of the security staffing needs of the prison system.
They also approved $604,524 over the biennium to continue the 5 percent increase in pay for 97 rural custody positions.
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