A month ago, CFM President John Bebow urged the Senate subcommittee overseeing prison spending to take pruning shears to the governor's proposal for 2013 to spend about $2 billion on the Michigan Department of Corrections.
"(C)ontinued re-engineering of the prison system in Michigan is another chapter in the theme of Reinventing Michigan," Bebow told the panel led by Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph.
Finding significant savings in the DOC budget has long been an important goal for the Center for Michigan, Bridge's parent firm, and for the Corrections Reform Coalition, an alliance of business and other groups. Our thesis is simple: Michigan has pressing public needs that cannot be met when so much of the state's general fund is consumed by the Corrections Department.
While noting to the committee that reforms had been undertaken -- and that the size of the prison population has steadily dropped in recent years -- Bebow highlighted the fact that the MDOC budget really hasn't budged at all.
The panel looked at the figures and has proposed a step in the right direction -- a series of cuts that would reduce the governor's original spending proposal.
These reductions are not massive -- $67 million out of a general fund amount of $1.98 billion -- but they would represent progress. And they reflect the business-like approach the Legislature and administration must take to DOC operations in pursuit of savings.
The Center for Michigan will continue to speak for reform at the Capitol -- reform that reduces the prison budget while still ensuring the safety of Michigan residents.