In a letter dated August 1, 2013, Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters warned Governor Scott, Senator Negron, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Representative McKeel, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, of the looming budget deficit facing the department in the wake of the First District Court of Appeal ruling in DJJ v. Okaloosa, et al. on secure detention and a recent federal decision regarding Medicaid eligibility for non-secure residential youth. She indicated that the two issues created an anticipated current year budget deficit of $54.5 million ($35.5 million for secure detention; $19 million for Medicaid). Thereafter the Secretary went on to lay out a spending plan that she hoped would reduce the deficit for secure detention from $35.5 million to $18.4 million. The plan contemplates the release of 100% of general revenue appropriated to the department, the use of $15.8 million in available cash from trust funds, and creation of an estimated $9.6 million in savings from delayed implementation of non-critical contracts. Significantly, the success of the spending plan also depends on the collection of an estimated $26.8 million in continued county payments. Secretary Walters suggested that without that level of county payments, she would have to look at other options including one of last resort, the closure of some detention centers.
As mentioned above, exacerbating the department’s budget deficit is a non-related federal decision by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in June that mandated the discontinuation of federal match for Medicaid services (regular and emergency medical care, behavioral health overlay services) for youth residing in non-secure residential commitment facilities operated by the department. The deficit related to this decision is estimated to be $19 million. A copy of Secretary Walter’s letter can be found here.
FAC staff continues to work very closely with the department to try to help minimize the effects of the budget deficit on the delivery of services to our youth in the juvenile justice system. Should you have any questions please call Lisa Hurley.