On my to-do list today is to edit Grits intern Tara Haelle's latest report on the House and Senate Sunset bills, so more on these subjects soon.
Vastly different pictures have emerged in the House and Senate in terms of state juvenile justice funding for the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC).
While the House has not yet passed its final budget, the decisions made by the House Appropriations Committee will support TYC's continued reform efforts - initiated in 2007 with the passage of S.B. 103 - toward a regionalized system that delivers a continuum of quality rehabilitative services to the state's most troubled youth. In the Senate, TYC's budget was cut dramatically, with a large chunk of the cuts re-allocated to TJPC for the funding of two diversion pilot programs in Dallas and Travis Counties.
These decisions represent two different perspectives on how best to advance the ongoing juvenile justice reform effort in Texas, which will have to be ironed out in conference committee.
Quick highlights of the different budget pictures are below:
In the Senate
TYC's budget was decreased by $81 million - an almost 20% reduction in funding. This translates into:
- A reduction in TYC's number of contract bed placements from 340 in FY2009 to just 47 in FY2010 and 36 in FY2011.
- Closure of two TYC facilities, the West Texas State School in Pyote, and the Victory Field Correctional Academy in Vernon.
- A reduction in full time employees (FTEs) of 500 in FY2010 and an additional 250 in FY2011. While some of the FTE cuts will come from TYC administration, institutional staffing is also likely to be affected. The FY2010 cuts are likely to reduce TYC's ability to meet the 1:12 JCO-to-youth ratio mandated by last session's S.B. 103, while the FY2011 cuts may result in a decrease of clinical staff.
TJPC's budget was increased by $35 million - a 14% increase in funding. This translates into:
- Funding for two diversion pilot programs in Dallas and Travis Counties, which are intended to divert high-risk youth offenders, including violent youth, from commitment to TYC. An additional $18 million was placed in Article XI of the Senate budget for another diversion pilot in a 22-county Southeast Texas consortium. ( Note: Items in Article XI have not been funded, but may be considered for inclusion in the budget by conferees.)
- No restoration of the one-time loss of federal Title IV-E dollars incurred by juvenile probation departments during the 2008-09 biennium. This funding is typically used by juvenile probation departments to serve lower-level offenders and for non-secure placements. TJPC anticipates that this loss of federal funding will impact 122 counties statewide. Unfortunately, the additional diversion pilot funding provided by the Senate to only two counties will not offset the loss of federal Title IV-E funding. TJPC has predicted an increase in commitments to TYC of as many as 1,900 youth - who are not currently included in the Legislative Budget Board's January 2009 population projections for TYC - if this loss of federal funding is not restored by the state.
In the House
TYC's budget was decreased by approximately $20 million - a 5% reduction in funding. This translates into:
- A decrease to adjust for one-time expenditures in the 2008-2009 biennium related to S.B. 103's implementation and associated population reductions.
- A promising restructuring of the kinds of state services delivered to committed youth, including:
- Additional capacity in regional specialized treatment facilities, including contract beds and two 48-bed TYC-operated regional facilities, which will help reduce the number of youth housed in large, remote TYC institutions.
- A regional pilot program in a major urban area that would facilitate community re-entry and specialized aftercare using innovative, evidence-based programs.
- Continued operation of the West Texas State School in Pyote, and the Victory Field Correctional Academy in Vernon.
- Reauthorization of $25 million in bond funding (originally appropriated to TYC for use in the 2008-2009 biennium) to build three 48-bed facilities near metropolitan areas.
TJPC's budget was increased by $28 million - an 11% increase in funding. This translates into:
- Restoration of the one-time loss of federal Title IV-E dollars incurred by juvenile probation departments during the 2008-09 biennium. $23 million was allocated to TJPC as a one-time expense only, and an additional $11 million was placed in Article XI of the budget.
- Three additional FTEs were added to address increased agency responsibilities, such as abuse and neglect investigations, fiscal auditing, and computer programming.
- Development of a Juvenile Case Management System in conjunction with the major urban counties. This will enhance the state's ability to access information about youth in county-operated juvenile probation programs, and to identify successful juvenile probation programs that effectively address youths' rehabilitative needs, so that state funding can be targeted toward what works best.
- Development of an automated juvenile mental health assessment instrument to ensure that youth with mental health needs are identified and receive appropriate services, particularly when confined in county-operated secure pre- and post-adjudication facilities.
- Operation of a juvenile mental health facility in East Texas to provide inpatient mental health treatment services to youth who cannot be served in the community due to lack of adequate mental health resources.
Why Has TYC's Cost-Per-Day Gone Up?
MORE: From the Austin Statesman, "Juvenile justice picks held up."