The1st meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice and Judiciary of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on<Day> Thursday, June 4, 2009, at 10:30 AM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Robin Webb called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Tanya Dickinson, Branch Manager, Grants Management Branch; Lieutenant Brad Bates, Kentucky State Police; Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, J. Michael Brown.
LRC Staff: Jennifer Anglin; Mike Mullins; and Ashlee McDonald.
A quorum was present.
Representative Webb introduced the first guest, Tanya Dickinson, Branch Manager, Grants Management Branch. Representative Webb also recognized Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, J. Michael Brown.
Tanya Dickinson stated that the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet is the recipient of four Federal Formula Grants with stimulus funds attached to them. The committee was given a handout regarding an in-depth overview of the Justice and Public Safety Grants, which are updated on a regular basis and given to the State Budget Director. Ms. Dickinson stated that some of the funds are “general use” criminal justice dollars, while others are very restrictive. The first and largest of the grants is the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG). This is an annual grant that is administered by the United States Department of Justice. The amount has varied from $1.5 million to $4.5 million over the last few years. With the stimulus cycle, she expects the state will receive $15 million. An estimated $9 million of JAG funds will go directly to local jurisdictions. These funds are considered general use dollars since there are few restrictions concerning the use of these funds. Ms. Dickinson stated that these funds are non-supplanting, meaning that they must be used to pay for new activities and new projects, with the exception of new construction and vehicles. This annual grant is run on a competitive application cycle which was concluded about a month ago. The Justice Cabinet has finished receiving the applications for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funds.
Representative Webb inquired about how the level of funding presently compares with the historical funding within the last two or three years. She wanted to know what the difference in the dollar amounts have been.
Ms. Dickinson said the 2009 annual award has gone to approximately $3.9 million. JAG funding has been very volatile since its first year in 2005. The first year was the highest level of funding at $4.5 million and last year, 2008, was the lowest with $1.5 million.
Representative Webb wanted to clarify with Ms. Dickinson that the Cabinet will be getting a substantial boost over the next four year cycle and wanted to be updated on how the money is being used.
Representative Yonts noted that in the JAG Grant, there is money that goes to court programs, drug prevention education, and drug treatment. He asked how much of that money actually is provided for drug courts.
Ms. Dickinson responded that those are all eligible application areas that the U.S. Department of Justice allows for the expenditure of those funds. She stated that since they run a competitive application cycle, the use of the funds depends on the type of applications received.
Representative Yonts inquired if the funding would be for new drug courts or for an expansion of existing drug courts.
Ms. Dickinson answered by saying that it could be for new or expanded drug courts, depending on the use specified in the application. In the past, the Administrative Office of the Courts has applied for supplementary funding for existing drug courts and for drug testing programs.
Representative Yonts asked about the counties that do not currently have drug courts available. He wanted to know if the ones that do not have drug courts currently would be a priority for funding.
Ms. Dickinson said that it would depend on what the Administrative Office of the Courts wanted to pursue. With the stimulus funds being one-time funds, there will be some difficulty creating long-term programs with that money. It is primarily up to the AOC and their strategic plan.
Representative Yonts wanted to know how much money is expended annually for the Crime Victims Compensation Fund.
Ms. Dickinson stated that the Justice Cabinet does not deal with the Crime Victims Compensation Fund. Those decisions are made by the Crime Victims Compensation Board. She stated that is it part of the same funding stream at the Federal level as for Victims Assistance and Victims Compensation.
Representative Yonts wanted to know what will happen to the programs and enhancements created during the next 24 months once the stimulus money is expended.
Ms. Dickinson said that the Justice Cabinet is being careful and meticulous in the application process and there is no intention to create programs that would be unfulfilled in the future due to lack of funding. They are expecting the annual JAG funds to increase over the next few years. She stated that many of the applications they are reviewing address one-time needs, and are not ongoing programs.
Representative Yonts inquired if any of the programs will require the creation of new jobs that will result in unemployment in 24 months.
Ms. Dickinson clarified that the JAG Grant is for a 4 year period. She said that applicants must specify a continuation plan. She said that some programs may create full-time positions or may contract for services.
Representative Webb said that the committee would like to be aware of the jobs, programs, or fields created beyond the 4 year window and would like the numbers in relation to areas. She said the Committee would like to be better prepared for the program continuation past the 4 years.
Senator Seum expressed his concern that they were growing government. He asked Ms. Dickinson her opinion on whether she thought that was the case.
Ms. Dickinson explained that they were growing capacity with one-time and short-term expenses and activities. She also explained that on a lot of the applications, there was the need for technology and equipment.
Senator Seum commented that the $651 million in stimulus money is short of the $3 billion that is expected with all the different entities. He is really concerned that two years from now they are going to have to start backing off from funding the programs. Senator Seum also asked what was the difference between Crime Victims’ Assistance and Crime Victims’ Compensation.
Ms. Dickinson explained that Crime Victims’ Compensation is when a person is victimized and suffers an injury. That person can apply with the Crime Victims’ Compensation Board for funds. The Crime Victims’ Assistance is for programs such as Victims’ Advocates and Rape Crisis Centers.
Senator Seum said that the reason he asked this particular question was because in his freshman year as a legislator in 1982, his first piece of legislation was to create the Crime Victims Board. He explained that they managed that with a $10 court cost, which he believes has now been raised to $20. He stated that he was very proud of that action.
Representative Webb-Edgington said that Ms. Dickinson had indicated the grant process was competitive for the funding. Representative Webb-Edgington wanted a brief synopsis of the process the Justice Cabinet goes through to review applications.
Ms. Dickinson said that for every grant cycle, a grant solicitation that outlines the rules and parameters, as well as the Federal guidelines is provided. Applicants have about six weeks to apply for funding. Once the application is completed and submitted, the staff does an initial review to ensure that the application is complete. They also have a panel of subject matter experts that review and score each application. The application must score a minimum of 50 to be called back for additional information. The application must score a minimum of 70 to be funded. Above the 70 score, the staff reviews the program’s past performance, adherence to policies and priorities to the Justice Cabinet and Federal guidelines. They then make recommendations to the Secretary of the Cabinet and awards are then handed out. She said that is about a three to four month process.
Representative Webb-Edgington asked about how the subjectivity issue with the staff relates to the application review process.
Ms. Dickinson explained that there is a certain amount of objectivity and subjectivity. They base their decisions on the numbers as well as the staff’s previous experience dealing with the funding process. Most of the grant funds have been declining leaving mostly continuation projects rather than new ones. The subject matter experts have previous experience in relation to each grant application process they score. The Justice Cabinet publishes each award and amount on the Justice Cabinet website.
Representative Webb-Edgington made a request for Ms. Dickinson to make the Legislative staff aware of when the new JAG Grants become available so Legislators can get that information out to their constituents as well.
Representative Webb asked if there was any vision of how the funds would or should be distributed in accordance with present justice policy.
Ms. Dickinson explained that priorities are imposed upon the Cabinet by the U.S. Department of Justice. The USDOJ takes JAG Funds and awards 40% directly to local governments and programs. The USDOJ sends 60% to the State Administrator, which the Cabinet turns into an open application cycle. The Justice Cabinet is required to provide a minimum of 38.5% of the funds they receive to the local governments. The Justice Cabinet is allowed discretion over 60% of the funds that come to the State Agency Administrator.
Representative Webb wanted to know if there is a vision about how to implement the discretionary distribution of the funds.
Ms. Dickinson said that the Justice Cabinet has not set any percentages. She said they have asked the applicants to indicate whether their program is intervention, prevention, or law enforcement. She said that the Justice Cabinet places a priority on funding programs that address substance abuse.
Senator Seum wanted to know if the programs and participants in the funding realize that this is one-time money.
Ms. Dickinson said that the Cabinet does try and stress that to each participant.
Senator Seum also inquired about the Violence Against Women Grant. He wanted to know if there was a Violence Against Men Grant.
Ms. Dickinson explained that when you read into the text of the handout, it indicates that the program is for victims of domestic abuse/sexual violence and it is not limited to women.
Representative Crenshaw said that in Fayette County a few years ago, they received Byrne JAG Grants that were very much appreciated and he appreciates all the hard work the Justice Cabinet is doing.
The next speaker was the Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, J. Michael Brown and Lt. Colonel Brad Bates representing the Kentucky State Police. Secretary Brown started the discussion regarding the vacant building in Perimeter Park owned by the Kentucky Retirement Systems that was acquired by the Kentucky State Police. The Kentucky State Police saw this opportunity as a long-term investment. The vacant building is approximately 45,000 square feet. The Kentucky State Police have been exploring the possibility of buying and renovating this building, rather than purchasing land and building a new structure. The building is also in close proximity to the Kentucky State Police post on Louisville Road. Currently the KSP academy is not a high quality facility. The last KSP class the academy held had 65 people and they will only be graduating 34 of the recruits. They feel like they are not able to compete with the current recruiting process because they are not given the space to adequately train new state troopers. They have had a Capital Plan that allotted $25 million to $30 million for a new State Police Academy. Through buying the buildings from the Kentucky Retirement System, the cost will be a fraction of the amount that would be needed for new construction. The buildings will need to be renovated and equipped. They expect the project to cost somewhere around $5 million. Secretary Brown feels this is a vital step to allow the Kentucky State Police take a step forward.
Representative Webb commended the Secretary on his effort and for his dedication for making the renovation and opportunity possible.
Lt. Colonel Brad Bates said that because of the Legislature the State Police was allocated $6.75 million in the 2005-2006 Capital Budget to build a new facility for the IT Records Center. Mr. Bates explained that currently their IT records are held in a building behind the State Police Post on Louisville Road. These are “temporary” buildings with no water, no restrooms, and no heating/air conditioning with employees currently working inside them. They have been bidding on the Perimeter Park real estate and property for over two years. The final proceedings and contracts are in the process now and the Kentucky State Police hopes to close within 30 days. The property they want to acquire includes the 45,000 square foot state building on two acres as well as a vacant church on five acres. The purchase price for this property is $3.2 million and it will take around $2.4 million to renovate and remodel the property.
Representative Webb-Edgington complimented the Kentucky State Police Agency on their positive outlook and progress. She commended the agency for addressing the shortfall of the budget by eliminating unnecessary travel and not hiring non-merit employees.
Senator Seum commented that he is very interested in why the Kentucky State Police was losing half of the cadet class.
Secretary Brown stated that most of the loss occurred before the training even got started. He thinks that it has been a timing issue. The background checks and recruiting process is extensive, and often there is an extended waiting period for the applicants to start the class. Secretary Brown said that the Kentucky State Police is trying to have a set start date each year for the training, and that could be shortly after the end of the normal collegiate year. This will ensure that those interested in becoming a State Trooper can start the training classes shortly after they finish college.
Senator Seum inquired about how the background checks influence the qualifications of the new recruits.
Leslie Gaham, also representing the Kentucky State Police, answered Senator Seum’s question. She stated that the KSP has the highest standards set for their new recruits. A lot of disqualification for recruits happens when the background checks show previous drug use or other criminal matters they feel do not comply with the integrity of the state police.
Representative Crenshaw asked what the renovation of the church consisted of and what uses were planned for that particular property.
Lt. Colonel Brad Bates explained that the church needs renovations to clear out the mold and asbestos problems, roof repairs, and the exterior brick and rock areas need repairs. The church will be used for the storage of records and may be used for training classes and a weight room.
Representative Webb stated that legislation was adopted in the last session that authorized the state police to rehire retired troopers. She wanted to know if this effort is being successful.
Lt. Colonel Brad Bates explained that there is no formalized poll was taken of recent retirees to determine the number that may be interested in returning, but he was aware that some troopers have expressed interest in being rehired.
Representative Webb asked if there has been any salary or wage analysis concerning the pay for re-hired troopers.
Leslie Gaham answered by saying that there is a contract for rehires. They will start out at a State Trooper probationary trooper’s salary, which starts out at approximately $38,000 a year.
Representative Webb inquired about the anticipated duties of any re-hired retirees.
Leslie Gaham stated that it would not be any specialized positions, any detective work, or supervisory work. They will be there to supplement the troopers working the highways.
Representative Webb asked Ms. Gaham to give the criteria and cost savings/projections for hiring retirees to staff for distribution to the subcommittee members.
The last speakers were Mark Robinson, Director of Administrative Services, Department of Corrections and Kevin Pangburn, Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Department of Corrections. Kevin Pangburn briefly explained the Recovery Kentucky Program and Corrections’ involvement in that program. Since the introduction of the program in January 2005, seven facilities have opened. They consist of five female and two male programs, and 2 additional male facilities are planned to open by the end of this year. The Kentucky Department of Corrections’ involvement is to identify persons on parole that need substance abuse treatment and send them to the programs as a condition of their parole. The DOC is responsible for 33 beds in each facility and that will increase to 50 beds.
Representative Webb said that she had several concerns and questions. She wanted to know who decides the locations for the facilities. In her Eastern Kentucky district, she has no facilities there, although that area of Kentucky has a significant drug problem that exceeds the state and national levels. Also, she is concerned that the persons in treatment are being charged a high cost for phone usage for contact with family members and attorneys. She has received several complaints regarding the bills.
Mr. Robinson said that the facilities are intended to be in the more rural areas of the state. The locations are also based on community support and there must be a treatment provider willing to locate in the area.
Representative Webb also wanted to know if the DOC received any type of compensation or revenue from the phone charges.
Mr. Robinson stated that DOC is not involved in the phone services at the facilities, and does not receive any revenue from the phone bills.
Deputy Commissioner Rodney Ballard stated that there are several pay phones at the facilities that usually charge 50 cents per phone call locally. The residents of the facilities are responsible for paying any long distance charges.
Representative Webb was curious to know if the state can set the criteria for the phone charges and would like more information regarding the criteria for the phones. She is mainly seeking comparative data.
Kevin Pangburn said he would look into the information she has requested and find additional information for her.
Representative Crenshaw asked what the maximum capacity is for these facilities.
Mark Robinson stated that the facilities are designed to hold 100 people. The DOC is looking into whether it can financially afford to go from 30 beds to 50 beds.
The meeting adjourned at 11:42 a.m.