Corrections exempt from furloughs through June |

Corrections exempt from furloughs through June

Correctional officers on Tuesday won an exemption through this fiscal year to the furloughs other state workers must take.

The Board of Examiners approved the exemption even though it drains the money set aside for all agencies that might need exemptions, leaving just $180,000 in the account.

The board consisting of the governor, secretary of state and attorney general had already approved month-by-month exemptions for the Department of Corrections through this month, eating up $1.6 million of the $4 million available.

The remaining $2.4 million won’t cover the entire cost of exempting correctional officers for the year. Director Howard Skolnik said that will take another $3.58 million.

Gov. Jim Gibbons made the motion to approve the exemptions through the end of June 2010 and then look at other options to cover the cost in Fiscal Year 2011.

Skolnik said he could generate $578,732 by charging rent for the canteens within the system and another $218,120 by charging the inmate trust account for use of the gymnasiums. The inmate fund, he said, can cover those costs.

In addition, he said he can generate $579,306 from the federal government in grants through the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.

Together, those three revenue sources would generate a total of nearly $1.4 million leaving him about $2.2 million short.

He is pinning his hopes for the rest on negotiations with a private corrections firm GEO, which wants to lease Nevada’s Jean Prison for the next five years. Skolnik said that contract should generate about $2.5 million a year for the state.

He said he expects to finalize negotiations on that contract within 60 to 90 days and, if successful, “Then we’re good.”

Director of Administration Andrew Clinger said corrections is the only state agency to dip into the money lawmakers set aside for furloughs at this point. He said the only other exemptions granted were to programs using non-General Fund money. Workers processing Social Security disability claims, for example, were exempted but their funding is completely federal and furloughing them would just send any savings back to the federal government.