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Oklahoma Public Safety Agencies Plan For Budget Cuts

The coronavirus pandemic is hurting state revenues and public safety agencies in Oklahoma are preparing for a potential 3 percent cut to their budgets in the next fiscal year.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections could lose more than $16 million dollars. To adjust, the agency is considering moving prisoners out of private prisons into temporary holding areas in state prisons.

Corrections director Scott Crow told legislators this week they would also still have around $4 million meant to pay for prisoner Hepatitis C treatment.

Crow said he’s hesitant to scale back prisoner education and rehabilitation programs, but it's something the agency may have to consider in addition to asking some staff to work remotely, and creating savings in the agency’s IT programs.

Prosecutors say, after cuts, many district attorneys may have to lay off and furlough staff.

The Department of Public Safety is planning to adapt by pushing internet service costs for tag agencies onto individual tag agents. The department would also stop diverting other projects’ funding to help pay for the state’s switch to Real ID.

On top of a potential budget cut, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is projecting less revenue from regular operations, like processing handgun license applications. With the cut, the agency may need to reduce spending on its DNA database, and hold off on hiring some staff.

Quinton Chandler worked at StateImpact Oklahoma from January 2018 to August 2021, focusing on criminal justice reporting.
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