As it turns out, my father actually doesn’t stand to lose $13,200 if his union contract is nullified by Governor Walker’s policy iniatives — he won’t be around long enough for that because as of 120 days from now, the Governor’s budget will have his place of work closed down.
In fairness, it’s worth pointing out that closing this correctional facility has been an ongoing debate since long before the Governor took office, although he will be the one to drive the final nail into the coffin.
Two juvenile correctional facilities - Ethan Allen School for Boys in Waukesha County and Southern Oaks Girls School in Racine County - would be closed to help erase the state’s budget deficit and the juvenile offenders would be moved to consolidated operations at the Lincoln Hills School in Lincoln County, under Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget.
Walker, in a summary of his budget, says the closures are necessary because the Department of Corrections has been unable to reduce operating expenses at juvenile facilities enough to align with dramatically lower populations. That inability has resulted in an increasing deficit for juvenile corrections, Walker says.
The move would result in 269 full-time equivalent positions being eliminated, Walker’s budget summary says.
Walker’s budget summary does not say how great the deficit was at the juvenile institutions.
But last summer, when officials were discussing whether to close one of the two male juvenile facilities - Ethan Allen in the Town of Delafield or Lincoln Hills in Irma - the state Division of Juvenile Corrections said it was is facing a $25 million budget deficit over the next two years.
It said the state could save between $13 million and $14 million by closing one of the male juvenile facilities.
A committee appointed last year by then-Gov. Jim Doyle to study the possibility of closing one of the facilities in June could not come to an agreement on which school to close.
The sentiment of the 11-member committee was to recommend closing Ethan Allen and consolidate it with Lincoln Hills.
But the panel fell one vote short of the six-vote majority needed to send the recommendation on to Doyle and then-Department of Corrections Secretary Rick Raemisch.
The vote to close Ethan Allen was 5-3. Three Circuit Court judges on the Governor’s Juvenile Corrections Review Committee abstained from the vote; one judge said it was their belief that a decision to close a facility should be left to other branches of the government.
A similar vote to recommend shuttering Lincoln Hills in northern Wisconsin and combine operations at Ethan Allen failed. Only three people voted in favor of that option.
The panel concluded that the state could not afford to keep both institutions open.
Walker’s budget summary says that the juvenile institution average daily population was 466 in fiscal year 2009-10, compared to 587 in 2007-08. The average daily population is projected to decline to 340 for fiscal year 2012-13, the summary states.
Walker says to keep the three current facilities and to address the deficit would result in charging counties that place juveniles in the institutions a daily rate of $538 in the 2011-12 fiscal year. If the institutions are consolidated at Lincoln Hills, the daily rate would be $284.
Closing Ethan Allen and Southern Oaks in Union Grove is “intended to keep the rate from escalating to a level that would be unmanageable for counties,” Walker says.
Shutting down Ethan Allen likely would cause some outcry locally.
My dad’s actually pretty well come to terms with this, and he was only a couple years away from retirement as is. He’ll probably retire (rather than get booted), get his retirement benefits, and then find a new job somewhere else because he’s a workaholic of sorts.
He’s mostly just concerned about all of the other people he supervises who don’t share the same financial comfort than he does and who will have to start looking for new jobs.