TYC Staff:In a separate email on Monday, Townsend described the Senate's essentially similar draft budget for the agency.
This morning the Legislative Budget Board’s (LBB) House Version of recommended baseline appropriations for the 2012-13 biennium, House Bill 1, was released. This is the first version of a funding plan for state government operations during Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013. As you are aware, the State of Texas is facing a shortfall in revenue over needed government operations estimated between $15 billion to $27 billion for the upcoming biennium. As a result, lawmakers are forced to make some difficult decisions for major reductions to every state agency budget, including the Texas Youth Commission.
HB1 would reduce the TYC budget from $397 million in general revenue for the current biennium to just over $334 million for FY 2012-2013, a reduction of $62.8 million. In all funds, our budget would be reduced from $455.9 million in this biennium to $360.3 million in the upcoming two-year cycle, a reduction of $95.6 million. Obviously, these cuts would have a dramatic impact on our agency.
The reductions occur across the board and would affect every aspect of TYC operations. The reductions were based on three things: LBB population projections, appropriated cost per youth per day in each service category for FY 2008-2011 applied to the population projections, and uniform reductions of 10% to some categories. While we are still working through the details of the bill, some affected areas are immediately apparent:
- Freezes the career ladder – A rider change would prohibit TYC from making any JCO career ladder salary adjustments during the 2012-13 biennium. Our understanding is that a similar limitation will be considered for TDCJ correctional officers. This rider has the potential to significantly impact both recruitment and retention of employees who have the most direct contact with youth.
- Reduces institutional capacity – A new TYC rider would establish a maximum cap of 1,600 institutional beds beginning January 1, 2012, compared to the current budgeted cap of 1,900 average daily population. This morning, TYC’s institutional population was 1,459 youth. The wording of this restriction states that the agency may close up to three facilities to reduce institutional capacity, and TYC would need to report the plan for reducing capacity to the Legislative Budget Board by October 2011. There is no current plan for closing specific facilities; therefore, the plan would need to be developed once the budget is finalized.
- Maintains current capacity in contract care and halfway houses but with some reductions in funding.
- Reduces parole services – The agency would serve a population of 1,160 youth in FY 2012 and 1,220 youth in FY 2013. The introduced bill would result in fewer staff and may impact both parole contracts and the number or size of district offices.
- Reduces FTEs – The agency would be funded for 2,986.8 FTEs in FY 2012-13, down 553.2 from the FY 2010-11 level.
It is important to remember that the bill introduced today is the House’s proposal to accommodate the revenue shortfall and to fund core government services for two years. We anticipate that the Senate might lay out a different version of the budget in its separate bill sometime next week. We are still very early in the process, but HB1 demonstrates the kind of reductions we are likely to face.
- Scales back retirement contributions – The State of Texas will scale back the amount it contributes to each employee’s retirement account from 6.95 percent to 6.0 percent. The employee contribution currently at 6.5 percent will also be reduced to 6.0 percent. At this time, we are not aware of any planned incentives to increase the number of employees who retire before or during the next biennium.
This isn’t easy news to deliver or receive. We knew this would be a difficult legislative session financially for everyone, and I assure you that every state agency today is trying to determine how it will continue to fulfill its mission. I understand this news will likely cause a great deal of speculation, so I will do my best to keep you updated on developments as they occur. The appropriations bill versions and recent LBB reports are posted on their website at http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Bill_82/1_Recommend/Bill-82-1_House_Recommend.pdf. The TYC section starts on page V-62 in Article V.
As we work through this legislative session, we will respond to the legislature on the impact of the different versions of the budget (until it is finalized). Our focus will be to analyze the impacts in three areas: youth services; employee needs; and the potential ripple effects from reductions to other agencies on TYC youth and on public safety. I encourage you to continue to strive toward excellence each day. I sincerely appreciate the work you are doing.
Regardless of whether the agency is merged with the Juvenile Probation Commission, a reduction in force of 553 FTEs is a lot of folks. OTOH, looked at another way, TYC has 3,540 employees to oversee a total of 1,710 youth in its residential population as of November 2010, according to LBB. Astonishingly, that's more than two employees per incarcerated youth! Think about that: Every kid sent to youth prison accounts for employment of two adults. No wonder Sen. Whitmire and LBB see TYC as prime ground for budget cuts.
Cherie punts on the question of which facilities might close, but I've little doubt we'll get a clearer picture of the answer to that question as the legislative session progresses.