Most state agencies survived the special session without a cut, but the Department of Corrections was not so lucky. Construction and repair projects were put off once again, leading to concerns from department officials that the facilities used to house inmates could be running low on time.
Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc says they got hit pretty hard at the last second.
“6 million in attrition, 2 million in thirty positions cut, we got hit pretty hard in that sense.”
LeBlanc says the state has not provided funding for new facilities in over ten years, which he says is bound to catch up with Louisiana sooner than later.
“We could talk about a fiscal cliff, but we’re at a public safety cliff in our prison system, and I feel that this has to be done.”
But it wasn’t all bad news. The legislature OK’d 24 million dollars in pay raises for corrections workers, bringing average pay from 12 dollars an hour to 14. LeBlanc says they experienced a 52 percent turnover last year, and this help draw in prospects to fill the hundreds of vacant positions.
“That’s a pretty good increase and we feel that this is going to have a major impact on our amount of turnover, and the type of person that we’ll get to interview for jobs.”