The leaders of state agencies are looking for ways to cut 10% of their budget. Governor Culver ordered the across-the-board cut Thursday to trim roughly $600 million in state government spending between now and June 30th. Iowa Department of Corrections spokesperson Fred Scaletta says the order will force DOC Director John Baldwin to find nearly $40 million in savings.
“We have talked with the wardens and district directors and asked them to submit their ideas and plans for how they may cut that,” Scaletta said. “Because it’s across-the-board, every piece of our agency that has an itemized budget will be responsible for reducing 10%. So, that includes all of our judicial districts, community corrections and the institutions.”
Funding for Iowa’s nine prisons and eight community corrections agencies represents about 6% of the state’s budget. Scaletta says the DOC, like many state agencies, took steps earlier this year to cut back on spending. Those steps include a hiring freeze, cutting back on travel and investigating possible savings on prescription drugs. However, Scaletta says the size of the budget cut will certainly force Director Baldwin to consider layoffs.
“Anywhere between 75 to 80% of the institution’s budgets are salaries and in community based corrections it’s even a little bit higher than that, so…we’re going to struggle here a little bit,” Scaletta said. Governor Culver said Thursday that he will try to backfill money for certain areas of public safety. The Governor ordered the budget reduction after a three-member panel of financial experts reduced their estimate of state tax collections for the year by $415 million.