Governor Nikki Haley and Corrections Director William “Bill” Byars announced the elimination of a $7.5 million deficit for agency.
Byars said they have worked hard as a team looking for dollars. Although the state is struggling with current financial difficulties, he says the department must still go forward and take care of their core responsibilities.
Knowing that the situation that we’re in, we have worked hard, we asked our staff to work with us, we asked for ideas, and so we’ve come up with a reduction that we feel we can carry out. It is mainly in one-time monies, but that is what we need at this time to get through this particular crunch.
Byars says that they will be adding five additional days of furlough to the non-security personnel, giving them the maximum of 10 days furlough. In addition to that, the security staff supervisiors, who are lieutenants through majors, will also be taking an additional five days. Byers says this maxes out the allowable furlough for them.
We have also added one day of furlough to our security staff, that will get them up to six. We did not take them above that because we think that to do that might imperil the level of safety and security that we have to have.
Byars says there were unexpected ways they were able to find savings for the department.
We also got lucky. Workers compensation claims are down. Because of that… we were able to get, in effect, a rebate, or reduction, of $1.78 million that we were able to apply to the one-time deficit reduction.
In addition to claims savings, Byars says there have been no catastophic medical expenses and the department will, therefore, be able to enjoy a lower medical projection than was originally set aside.
With the exception of security, Byars says they will be slow to add new hires to fill current vacancies in the agency.
We have a number of vacant FTE’s that we’re going to leave vacant or either fill them slowly, more slowly than we would have. We’re going to continue to fill our security, which that is paramount. But some of the others, we are going to be able to pick up some additional dollars.
Byars says this is not the first time that state employees of the Corrections Department have seen cut backs.
I want you to know that this is the fourth year in a row that folks out at corrections will not draw their regular paycheck. This is not the first time that this has had to be done. It’s been four years in a row. I understand and realize that we have another tough year coming. But we will get through this. We’ve assured our folks that we will get through this, and they’ve assured us that they will continue to do the job for which the state has engaged their services.
Governor Haley says she realizes there are people and families behind these reductions.
I think we get caught up in the dollars and cents, which is very important. But we have to remember there are lives behind all of this. And we also have to remember there is a function of government that we have to deal with this. So again, I will go back to, how do we reduce the number of inmates behind the fence, how do we do it as efficiently as we can, and how do we do it in the way that we give the most respect to those employees that work there every day. That’s a mission that I’ll continue to work on.