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Idaho Correction Department to cut 38 jobs, impose furloughs

Mon., May 25, 2009

LEWISTON – The Idaho Department of Correction will cut 38 positions this summer and take other steps to save about $4.7 million, the agency’s director said.

Brent Reinke said the job cuts will save about $2 million, and requiring remaining workers to take four to 10 days off without pay will save another $2 million.

The rest of the money will come from miscellaneous savings, he said.

“I’m just hoping things stabilize so we don’t have to go any deeper (with personnel and budget cuts),” Reinke said.

Idaho lawmakers in the last legislative session cut about $25 million, or 14 percent, from the budget of the agency, which has about 1,600 employees.

But lawmakers were concerned that some agencies wouldn’t be able to absorb the budget cuts without hurting public safety and gave Gov. Butch Otter spending authority for an additional $7 million.

Otter can allocate the money to agencies to prevent further cuts.

The Department of Correction became the first agency to ask for some of that money when Reinke recently requested nearly $1.6 million to be used to reduce the number of furlough days required.

Reinke also said that if the prison population grows, the money could be used to replace some of the laid-off positions.

“The reality is, we can’t take this many furlough days without having some unintended consequences,” Reinke said.

He noted that the 10 furlough days means parole and probation officers will have 80 fewer hours a year to supervise offenders.

He also said there will be less time for substance abuse and mental health programs that have helped reduce the growth in the prison population.

Reinke said it’s unclear when Otter might act on his request, adding that Otter plans to see how state revenue looks this summer before releasing any of the $7 million.

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