- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 28, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma Board of Corrections will ask state lawmakers for nearly $9 million to get through the next three months.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to request the funds after Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh warned of the department’s financial struggle, The Oklahoman reported.

The Corrections Department has an annual budget of nearly $500 million and its projected shortfall is a small percentage. But Allbaugh said the department still needs the $8.75 million.

Allbaugh said the department has been in the red all year and has a $5.2 million deficit in payroll alone. He warned that “bills will go unpaid” if the money is not provided.

Allbaugh didn’t give many options to the board for cutbacks if the supplemental funding isn’t approved. But he said he isn’t planning to make the cuts “on the backs of our employees.”

“We’re stretched thin as it is,” Allbaugh said. “It really doesn’t matter what agency in our department - we’re understaffed.”

Allbaugh also assured the board at Tuesday’s meeting that there was a plan in place if prison guards joined striking teachers next week, but he said he doesn’t expect a walkout. He said fewer than 30 employees requested leave for April 2, the day thousands of teachers and public employees are expected to march at the state Capitol.

State and private facilities housed more than 27,000 inmates on Tuesday, with over 1,100 more awaiting transfers from county jails.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com


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