Idaho Department of Correction budget set

Idaho’s legislative budget writers have approved a 7 percent general fund increase for the Department of Correction, with most of the money covering cost increases in the state’s contracts with private prison companies and a medical provider.

Though the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee approved the $202 million budget — including $180 million in general funds — unanimously Tuesday morning, several members voiced concerns about the cost and value of Idaho’s contract with Corrections Corporation of America, the Nashville, Tenn.-based company that runs the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise.

Still, the lawmakers stopped short of approving a motion from Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, encouraging the department to look into bidding on the facility. Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said he supported the idea but felt the motion overstepped the committee’s role.