In a recent state budget deal, the Arizona state House added $900,000 earmarked for the private prison corporation GEO Group, and the American Friends Service Committee in Arizona is asking citizens and such to call Senate Appropriations Chair Sen. Don Shooter (602-926-4139; firstname.lastname@example.org)and Senate President Andy Biggs (602-926-4371; email@example.com) and ask that this special deal not move forward. The Senate hears the bill today, Monday, March 31.
How did this deal get crafted? Well according to a March 28 Arizona Republic story, the Arizona Department of Corrections didn't ask for it, but House Appropriations Chair John Kavanagh placed it into the budget:
The eleventh-hour funding was placed into the budget by House Appropriations Chairman John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who said GEO Group Inc. lobbyists informed him the company wasn't making enough money from the emergency beds it provides Arizona at prisons in Phoenix and Florence.
The request came even though GEO bid for its contracts and had agreed to previously negotiated rates with the Corrections Department, which guarantees the company nearly 100 percent occupancy at its prisons.
Tell Senate Appropriations Chair to pull $900,000 appropriation for GEO Group in state budget!
The budget deal negotiated Thursday in the state House included an EXTRA $900,000 specifically earmarked for facilities run by one private prison corporation: GEO Group.
This money was not requested by the Department of Corrections. The Arizona Republic reported that a lobbyist for GEO Group went directly to Rep. John Kavanagh, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee to make the request.
The corporation essentially circumvented both the contract negotiation process AND the state agency budgeting process.
Despite a contentious process in which a group of holdout Republicans were fighting to secure needed funds for the states broken child welfare system, Kavanagh handed this corporation $1 million that the Department of Corrections says it doesn’t need.
How many needy Arizona families will go without child care? How many CPS cases will go un-investigated because John Kavanagh cares more about the interests of GEO Group than about the people of Arizona?