By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun
The Texas lieutenant governor has expressed an interest in the fate of the Corsicana Residential Treatment Center.
On Monday, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst sent a letter to Scott Fisher, head of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, stating that he’d like to work with the department to find a solution to the closing of the Corsicana facility.
In May, the state legislature passed the 2014-15 budget, which calls for cutting $23 million from the TJJD budget, and closing one of the agency’s six secure facilities. In June, the TJJD staff recommended closing the Corsicana Residential Treatment Center, and the TJJD board approved that on Aug. 31.
The vote was just a recommendation to the Legislative Budget Board, which has the final say in whether or not it will be closed. Dewhurst is one of the co-chairs of the Legislative Budget Board, along with Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus.
The Dewhurst letter comes right down the center line, recognizing the validity of both sides, but not taking a position on either.
However, Dewhurst does say he’d like to work with the TJJD to look at the financial impact of keeping the CRTC open, but he points out the can’t act alone on the LBB and can’t say what the board will do.
“I share the concerns raised by Senator Birdwell regarding closure of this facility and respect his determination to keep the facility open, but also recognize that to keep the facility open will require identifying another facility for closure, reducing funding for other TJJD programs, or determining a way to restore funding to the TJJD budget,” Dewhurst writes.
“While I cannot act unilaterally on behalf of the Legislative Budget Board, and cannot presuppose what final action it may wish to take,” Dewhurst said he would like to consider what would be needed to keep the CRTC open.
“In keeping with the budget intent, I would like to know and discuss with you the dramatic effects the doubling of our Texas population over the next 50 years will have on the TJJD population, what facilities you will need for your growing population, and what is in the best interest of the juveniles committed to the TJJD and the most cost effective solution for the taxpayers of Texas. I am not one who believes that with a growing population we will have numerically fewer juveniles and adults who commit crimes in Texas,” Dewhurst adds.
If a facility is going to be closed, it will have to be done by Dec. 31.
Last week, Speaker Straus sent a letter to Fisher saying he did not support closing the CRTC. His letter states that closing the facility won’t save any money and doesn’t take into account the proximity of the hospital to the CRTC, or the care they receive here.
Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com