By Jeremy Tripp
MCO Director, Government Affairs
As reported previously, Governor Rick Snyder presented his Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget this week and recommended a series of changes and recommendations for the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Included in the $2 billion dollar budget are several items of importance to MCO members, most notably, the recognition that private food service has not been successful and the news that the MDOC would not be renewing its private food contract and would instead be returning prison food services to state employees.
Many officers have met this important policy shift with enthusiasm and intrigue, however details of the planned switch have not been provided. At this time, it remains unclear if the state will return to its previous food service model or instead opt for something completely different.
Regardless, MCO will continue communicating with legislators, media and others on the importance of this function and throughout the transition, we ask members to remain vigilant, uphold standards, and continue to report and offer suggestions on improving the quality of food service within our institutions.
Of equal importance, the budget also includes a commitment to officer safety by proposing one-time funding of $9.2 million to support ongoing correction officer training academies and ensure the hiring of 359 new corrections officers. While we applaud this effort, we are also concerned by the MDOC’s difficulties with recruitment and retention over the past several years and will be working with members and others to create a professional pipeline of skilled recruits ready to face the challenges and difficulties of modern day corrections.
As the budget continues to take shape, MCO will continue highlighting the issues important to our members and ensure the voice and expertise of front line staff are listened to and included.