Senator Kenneth Corn, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety, called on Governor Brad Henry to expand the special session to include funding priorities for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC).
“During the budget process my pleas to those at the negotiating table fell on deaf ears,” Corn said. “I am fearful that waiting any longer to address the issue of additional funding for DOC will seriously compromise the safety of Oklahoma communities and today I am asking the Governor for his help.”
Corn, (D-Poteau) said DOC needs an additional $6.1 million in order to reach 80 percent staffing capacity for correction officers and 90 percent staffing capacity for probation officers. He also said the agency needs an additional $6.2 million to cover inmate healthcare.
Corn also said an additional $10 million will be needed to fulfill the states obligation to reimburse private prison bed contracts for fiscal year ‘06 and additional $2 million for the private prison per diem increase for fiscal year ‘06.
“In a year where we are making a record deposit into the Rainy Day fund and responsibly putting more money back into the pockets of working families, we should demand the same responsible funding for public safety,” Corn said. “The safety of our citizens is simply too important for us to continue to ignore the public safety funding problem.”
Corn said the decision to ask Governor Henry to expand the call of the special session is based on the belief that legislators have a responsibility to make tomorrow better for our children.
“Making tomorrow better for our children means keeping them safe so they can enjoy the full promise this state has to offer them,” the lawmaker said. “Anything less than that is unacceptable and that is why I am calling on Governor Henry to include matters of public safety in this special session.”