Gov. Snyder plays it safe with the state budget
On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder announced the end of the four-year program experimenting with privatizing prison food service as part of his 2018-19 budget plan.
It’s an acknowledgment of a failed experiment – with maggots in food, kitchen workers accused of smuggling and staff caught having sex with inmates – that shows action to address the problem.
It’s good to see and was the most surprising part of a $56.8 billion state budget proposal that had very few surprises.
Bringing prison food service back into the fold of state government will cost taxpayers – the budget calls for an additional $13.7 million for the transition to end the current $158.8 million contract with Trinity Services Group.
And it has the potential to create administrative woes for the state’s 33 facilities, which house and feed around 40,000 inmates.
State to end problem-plagued prison food contract
Appropriate health and safety standards must be reinstated, meal shortages must be addressed and a workforce of around 350 people must be identified and hired by July 31.
Yet “the benefits of continuing on that path don’t outweigh the costs and we should transition back to doing it in-house,” Snyder said.
It’s a smart move to acknowledge privatization’s shortcomings and correct a plan that isn’t working.
However, the process won’t be easy or quick. It must be completed carefully and, more importantly, state officials have to learn from it to prevent repeating the mistake down the road.
The remainder of Snyder’s 2018-19 budget plan attempts to control and prioritize spending increases amid the simultaneous call for tax cuts from legislators.
(Gov. Rick Snyder presents his $56.8 billion budget)
Lawmakers and protesters gathered in the Capitol Wednesday to hear Gov. Rick Snyder present his $56.8 billion budget for the 2018-2019 budget year, which begins on Oct. 1 Wochit
Among other highlights:
An increase of $120-240 in per-pupil funding for all K-12 schools
$25 million to help address the Flint water crisis
$175 million in general funding for road improvements
A 2% increase in university funding – up $28.6 million to $1.5 billion statewide
$600,000 to help reduce and prevent sexual assault on college campuses
Is the budget a good starting point? Sure. Will it make the leaps and bounds needed to address ongoing problems in infrastructure, education or safety? Unlikely.
More work remains to be done – by both the executive and legislative branches – to ensure a budget that meets the needs of Michigan’s residents, and moves the state forward.
— Lansing State Journal