OJA board warned about possible fiscal cliff fallout
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Saturday, December 15, 2012
12/15/12 at 4:59 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - The failure of Congress and President Barack Obama to reach an agreement on the fiscal cliff would have a devastating effect on the Office of Juvenile Affairs, its board was told Friday.
The fiscal cliff refers to automatic tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect at the end of the year.
The potential impact on the fiscal year 2013 budget is $5.9 million, said Kevin Clagg, the Office of Juvenile Affairs' acting chief financial officer.
The total loss of federal funds in fiscal year 2014 would be about $10 million, he said.
"The less predictable cost of this event will be the amount of state appropriations that may be removed from OJA's base budget to supplement other agencies that have a greater reliance on federal funding," Clagg said.
He said the cuts would result in long waiting lists for juveniles for secure placement and other treatment options.
"As we lose access to federal funds for re-entry services, recidivism rates will dramatically increase resulting in an increase of recommitments to the juvenile justice system and an increase in youth sent into the adult corrections system," he said. "This will further increase the financial burden placed upon both systems."
Re-entry services include drug treatment, mental health and other programs that help juveniles continue with their rehabilitation program, OJA spokeswoman Paula Christiansen said. Some of the services are provided under contract by private groups, she said.
Even minor cuts in federal dollars would have severe repercussions, and moderate cuts would result in the cancellation of contracts, Clagg said.
"If it happens, it is going to be pretty nasty," OJA Executive Director Keith Wilson said.
He said the agency has had to make so many cuts in recent years that there is nothing else to trim.
There will be no sacred cows, he said, with the exceptions of the agency's two institutions, the 115-bed Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Tecumseh and the 78-bed Southwest Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Manitou.
The agency recently closed the L.E. Rader Center in Sand Springs, which had the state's only maximum-security beds for youths.
Office of Juvenile Affairs funding
||Fiscal year 2012 actual
||Fiscal year 2013 budget
* Social Security and child support payments for children in custody, probation fees, surplus property sales and other miscellaneous revenues.
Source: Office of Juvenile Affairs
Original Print Headline: OJA warns of fiscal cliff fallout
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Executive Director Keith Wilson: "If it happens, it is going to be pretty nasty," he said