State budget cuts could take another major bite out of Baldwin County’s economy with the proposed closure of Bostick and Men’s state prisons in Baldwin County.
Both are on the chopping block, though a final decision hasn’t been made, state Sen. Johnny Grant, R-Milledgeville, said Thursday. The facilities house nearly 1,400 state inmates, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.
The department has proposed the closures as part of its effort to cut the budget, something all state departments are doing to deal with continually falling state revenues. Cuts statewide are likely to be significant, on top of the billions already sliced from state spending.
Gov. Sonny Perdue will roll out his budget recommendations next week as the Georgia General Assembly convenes for the year in Atlanta. Until then, the Department of Corrections won’t comment on its proposals, a spokeswoman said.
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Once Perdue has his say, the Georgia House and Senate will make their own changes, and funding for the prisons could fall in and out of the budget several times before a final decision is made.
But for now, the department is recommending closure for the two facilities, which employ about 287 people in Hardwick, just south of Milledgeville.
Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said he attended a recent Department of Corrections board meeting when the proposed closures were discussed.
Grant said he has discussed the cuts with the governor’s office and that Perdue was “sympathetic,” given the other state budget cuts that have hit the Milledgeville area.
River’s and Scott state prisons nearby both closed within the last year or so, Massee said. River’s employed 267 people and Scott 281, according to the Department of Corrections.
Meanwhile, the Bill E. Ireland Youth Development Campus is shutting down, and state cuts have affected other facilities in the area, which has a high percentage of government jobs.
Given these cuts, Grant and new state Rep. Rusty Kidd, I-Milledgeville, had hoped their area would be spared additional ones.
That may still be possible, but “the dangerous part is, anytime that something gets marked as a potential area where a cut could be made, then it keeps coming back up in the discussion,” Grant said.
To contact writer Travis Fain, call 744-4213.