About 30,000 Texas corrections employees will get raises, and the state will close its first maximum-security prison under a new criminal justice budget agreed to by Senate and House negotiators, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The agreement directs agencies to spend $6.1 billion in 2012-13 on adult criminal justice programs. That’s about $100 million, or 1.6 percent, less than the current two-year budget.
Bills containing some of the biggest savings appear to be dying in the last days of the legislative session, which ends May 30. Among those in trouble is a measure that would have allowed the state to deport foreign citizens if they were paroled from state prisons, estimated to save $76 million. Texas’ budget for its criminal justice programs, especially its relatively new and nationally recognized rehabilitation and treatment programs, has been closely watched by other states, as legislators sought to whack costs to make up for a budget shortfall estimated at $27 billion when the session began in January. As other states face similar budget woes, there had been speculation that Texas might slash prison specialty programs as it did in 2003.