Argall’s corrections spending study approved by committee

HARRISBURG – A measure to review mandatory corrections overtime costs was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning, according to the resolution’s prime sponsor, Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks).

Senate Resolution 263 would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the rising costs related to mandatory overtime spending within the Department of Corrections. The resolution will study staffing shortages within the department and compare the cost of mandatory overtime to hiring additional corrections officers.

“The legislature approved several cost control initiatives for our state prisons,” Argall said. “Conventional wisdom would dictate that a reduction in inmates would lead to a decrease in spending, but that has not been the case. Mandatory overtime is not just a concern for taxpayers, it’s a concern for corrections officers who are forced to spend less time with their families and more time at the state prisons. It’s not just a morale issue, it’s a public safety issue.”

During the budget hearings with the Senate Appropriations Committee in February, Corrections Secretary John Wetzel admitted that overtime costs for the current fiscal year will be around $96 million, and the department is anticipating $90 million for Fiscal Year 2016-17.

The department led all other state agencies in overtime spending from 2010 through 2014.

The Department of Corrections receives the third largest state appropriation from the General Fund compared to all state agencies.

The resolution moves to the full Senate for its consideration.

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