Oklahoma Senate Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee said that he, Speaker of the House Lance Cargill, and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan, have approved a FY 2008 budget work program for the Criminal Justice Resource Center (CJRC) that reduces spending for the current year by $80,559, an amount equal to 12 percent of the agency’s appropriation. The Criminal Justice Resource Center is a division of the Legislative Service Bureau.
Coffee said it became clear that spending reductions were needed when a budget review showed that the CJRC was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars more a year than its incoming revenues.
The spending reductions are structured in a way that no full-time CJRC employees will lose their jobs or face pay cuts.
The original budget plan for FY 2008 submitted by the CJRC to legislative leaders proposed spending $210,000 more than the agency’s revenues, which would have wiped out most of the CJRC’s budget carryover. This plan was rejected, but legislative leaders approved a revised budget plan with the reduced spending levels. Last year, the CJRC’s spending exceeded its revenues by over $300,000.
“CJRC is part of the legislative branch, and legislative leaders have a duty to ensure it is operated in a fiscally responsible manner. The CJRC has been spending money at an unsustainable rate, so it was both necessary and prudent to implement these spending restraints,” Coffee said. “The silver lining in this situation is that we creating efficiency and cutting fat at a government agency, and that’s great for Oklahoma taxpayers,” Coffee said.
Additional changes at the Criminal Justice Resource Center are possible following the completion of an independent performance review of the state’s prison system. The audit includes a review of the CJRC.
State law (22 O.S. § 1517) requires the director of the CJRC to receive approval from legislative leaders for the agency’s budget, and provides that the CJRC must operate “within the budget limits” set by legislative leaders.