Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher Provides Funding for Three Justice Cabinet Agencies

Press Release Date:  Monday, April 09, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker
502-564-2611

Stacy Floden
502-564-8220
 


FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today announced that he is exercising his gubernatorial powers to provide funding for the Kentucky State Police, Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The order comes after the House failed to act on House Bill 262 during the recent legislative session. The emergency order, signed by the Governor, provides funding essential to preserve public safety and maintain adequate service levels in these agencies.

“The failure of the House of Representatives to act on legislation to fund these needs, in House Bill 262, created risks to public safety which are not acceptable to me,” said Governor Fletcher. “These funds will keep our troopers on the roads and our inmates in jail for the duration of their sentences. In addition, it will provide juveniles the services needed to help keep them from being part of the corrections system later in life.”

“Governor Fletcher is to be commended for exercising his authority in order to provide critical criminal justice services and to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth,” said BG Norman Arflack, secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, which houses these three agencies. “While the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet strives to cut costs in every area possible, this funding is necessary to preserve public safety and maintain those services.”

At the Governor’s request, the state budget director and general counsel have reviewed the Governor’s legal and constitutional authority to fund these needs under all applicable laws.

“The Governor has the power to exercise this authority in this extraordinary circumstance,” said General Counsel David Fleenor.

The additional funds will be provided from savings in debt service within the existing budget and will not diminish the revenue surplus recently projected by the Consensus Forecasting Group.

Kentucky State Police

During the 2006 legislative budget process, agency fees and other receipts for the Kentucky State Police were overestimated through a technical legislative error, resulting in a corresponding reduction in the agency’s General Fund appropriation. Dramatically higher motor fuel prices in the current and previous year also contributed to the shortfall.

Kentucky State Police will receive an additional $3.3 million to maintain current trooper force and to preserve existing levels of law enforcement services.

Without these additional funds, the State Police would have canceled cadet classes, limited patrol activities to emergency situations and implemented a hiring freeze that would have resulted in delays in such areas as laboratory testing and criminal records checks.

The current budget authorizes the Governor to provide unbudgeted funds to the State Police upon the declaration of an emergency and Governor Fletcher has exercised this authority to resolve the funding problem.

“Unfortunately, the enacted budget provides funds for less than a full year of services at acceptable levels of safety, security and law enforcement,” said State Budget Director Brad Cowgill. “In the absence of the Governor’s action, Kentuckians would be left vulnerable to extraordinary risks.”

The funding solution Governor Fletcher proposed to the General Assembly was incorporated by the Senate into HB 262. It provided that requested funds would be drawn from within the budget itself and particularly from savings achieved by the Fletcher administration in debt service payments.

The Governor’s action will have essentially the same result: the debt service savings and the additional funds for these three agencies will have offsetting effects on the large General Fund surplus projected for the end of this fiscal year on June 30, 2007.

"By authorizing this funding, Governor Fletcher has ensured that the Kentucky State Police will continue to provide full service law enforcement to the citizens of the Commonwealth," said KSP Commissioner Jack Adams. "Governor Fletcher understands the importance of public safety and has demonstrated his commitment to the safety of Kentuckians by allocating the funds necessary to ensure Kentucky State Troopers have the resources to effectively perform their duties."

The Department of Corrections

The Department of Corrections will receive $10.4 million in additional funding this year to accommodate the cost of additional institutional inmates and to pay its inmate medical bills.

If additional funds are not provided, the Department of Corrections would be unable to pay medical providers which could result in unneeded and costly litigation. Additionally, a Departmental budget shortfall would jeopardize constitutionally mandated medical care to inmates as well as the long-established medical partnership with the University of Kentucky.

The Corrections budget shortfall was to be addressed by Governor Fletcher's budget proposals to the 2007 Session of the General Assembly. Since the House did not act on that proposal, the Governor chose to use this authority to under the current budget to shift funds within the Department's budget and to add unbudgeted funds from the General Fund Surplus. This shift will ensure that Corrections would be able to pay for the medical expenses of inmates and that county fiscal courts receive payments for state prisoners held in county jails.

“I am extremely pleased with the leadership demonstrated by Governor Ernie Fletcher,” said Commissioner John D. Rees. “Our mission in the Department of Corrections is to protect the public and provide a safe, secure and humane environment for staff and offenders. Governor Fletcher has enabled us to continue this important endeavor by approving the necessary additional funds required to pay medical bills and accommodate the cost of additional inmates.” 

The Department of Juvenile Justice

The Department of Juvenile Justice, which is responsible for the custody and care of approximately 1,100 juveniles, will receive approximately $2.7 million this fiscal year to preserve operations at current service levels.

Necessary overtime incurred in juvenile facilities has contributed to the current year budget shortfall. FY06 expenses were greater than budgeted and were paid from the FY07 budget. 

Although the Department has undertaken appropriate steps in the frugal management of its resources, the funding shortfall, if unresolved, would cause the Department to reduce services such as prevention or transportation and would risk the Department's programs failing to be accredited.  These actions would also create a safety risk for the staff and youth.

In the absence of a more specific legislative funding solution, Governor Fletcher’s action will avoid these problems by the exercise of his authority under the enacted budget and other laws to use funds in the General Fund Surplus Account for the satisfaction of certain prior year claims.

“The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice serves some of Kentucky’s most troubled youth. Any reduction in services would be detrimental to the future of these youth and their potential to become productive citizens,” said DJJ Commissioner Bridget Brown. “I am very appreciative of Governor Fletcher’s continuing support of our Department and his concern for all Kentucky youth.”

Governor Fletcher directed the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and the Office of State Budget Director to finalize plans and take the actions necessary to effectuate his authority in the budget to provide the necessary funds to these public safety agencies.

“The ability to address unbudgeted expenditures is limited by statute and the enacted budget,” said Cowgill. “We are glad we are able to address these specific needs within existing budget authority, but caution that each situation must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.”


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