Follow-up legislation to last year’s criminal code overhaul bill is headed to the Senate floor after a committee Thursday added potential funding help for local communities.
The purpose behind the state’s criminal code overhaul was in part to divert low-level offenders away from prison and into local community corrections programs. But so far, the General Assembly hasn’t done much to provide those local programs more money.
Senate Appropriations Chair Luke Kenley says, for now, the legislature can begin to address local needs by creating a grant program.
“It’s an effort to make available, if the savings would occur at Department of Corrections, some additional money between now and the time when we adopt next year’s budget,” Kenley said.
The money for the grants, added to legislation in the Appropriations Committee Thursday, would come from the Department of Correction and be capped at $11 million. The money will only be made available if DOC saves money because of the overhaul.
But Portage Democratic Senator Karen Tallian says there is still widespread disagreement about the bill’s impact.
“Some of us don’t have a clue what to really expect from this bill as to whether it’s going to add full time people to DOC or not,” Tallian said, “I’m very disappointed that, as the Appropriations Committee, we’re not hearing any of that.”
Kenley points out lawmakers will have a better understanding of the overhaul’s impact when it creates a new budget next year.