Corrections facing $7 million deficit

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - The Oklahoma Department of Corrections director says the budget deficit for his agency is trending toward $7 million.

Justin Jones said Friday the deficit would have occurred regardless of mandatory 5 percent agency cuts ordered for August and September after state revenues came in lower than anticipated.

He says if the budget cuts continue, the agency will have to ask its contractors to reduce their per diem rates for housing state inmates.

A hiring freeze is in place and the agency has offered a voluntary employee buyout program.

Jones says staffing levels are at 78 percent, the lowest rates that still allow the agency to maintain adequate public safety.

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