- House: Pitts, Crownover, Otto, S. Turner, Zerwas
- Senate: Williams, Duncan, Hinojosa, Nelson, Whitmire
Also, know up front that you have likely underfunded prison healthcare by around $50 million or so and will need to come back and fund it with a supplemental on the back end like the Lege did this year. TDCJ/UTMB, et al., have told the Lege what it will cost to provide care to prisoners but even the more generous Senate version of the budget is $55 million shy of the requested amount. Why not just budget what the health care actually costs instead of paying tens of millions on the back end as though it's some big surprise or "emergency?" Incarcerating felons is a core function of state government. Budget what it costs.
Members on the House side, given that your chamber suggested paying for employee raises as well as three extra prison units, you could agree to prison closures, increase prison health care funding to the requested amount, and still call the result a "savings." That would be the truly "fiscal conservative" approach: Reduce spending where feasible but pay your bills in full.
To Senators, each of you has been around long enough to see TDCJ require "supplemental" funds for health care at the beginning of each session year after year. Why intentionally underfund that line item and perpetuate the cycle?
With the two chambers in disagreement on prison closures, it's your decision. Texas made history and received national attention for closing the Central Unit. Grits urges you to follow Chairman Whitmire's lead, double down on that success and close two more. The state doesn't need them and the money is better spent on employee raises, prisoner healthcare, and probation programming.
MORE: A couple of different sites are calling for people to contact conference committee members telling them to close two prisons and don't buy another one, see here and here.
AND MORE: From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "Texas shouldn't keep spending on unneeded prisons."