Department of Corrections asking for more than $1 billion in funding

OKLAHOMA CITY – Although lawmakers will soon return to the Oklahoma Capitol to continue in a budget battle, one state agency is asking for more than a billion dollars in funding.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is requesting $1.53 billion in state funding for FY 19. The request includes funding for two new medium security prisons and fund mental health and substance abuse programs. It also includes more than $107 million in repairs to its facilities, and $10 million for across-the-board raises for employees.

“The days of bailing wire and pliers are over,” ODOC Director Joe M. Allbaugh said. “We have to fund this agency properly. This budget represents exactly what our needs are right now.”

Agency officials say some facilities are dealing with broken locks, leaking roofs and lack of security cameras. In fact, they say McAlester’s Oklahoma State Penitentiary needs a new sewer system, water and gas lines, new air conditioning units, road repairs and lighting repairs.

The request is more than $1 billion over the department’s FY 18 appropriation of $485 million.

Now, state lawmakers will consider the request during the upcoming legislative session next year.

However, Department of Corrections officials say this isn’t the first time the agency has asked for a funding increase.

Last year, the department requested $1.6 billion in funding for similar needs. Instead, lawmakers only appropriated $485 million for the agency.