During my first hearing as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I had the opportunity to ask Lorenzo Romero, Governor Ducey's budget director, about private prisons. The Arizona Public Media covered the story.
The Arizona House and Senate Appropriations Committee members were allowed to ask one question of Lorenzo Romero, Gov. Doug Ducey’s budget director.
The joint committee received a report on the governor's proposal and many of the questions focused on what is not in the budget.
Rep. Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma, wanted to know why Gov. Ducey wants more prison beds.
“If we have 1,027 beds why are we proposing more additional beds and additional construction of prisons?” Fernandez asked.
Romero said Arizona is at capacity for medium security beds but all prison beds are not equal.
“The other custody levels we don’t see there as being great demand for expansion,” Romero said. “It is this custody level that needs the expansion.”
Romero said Ducey's budget gives Arizona about 2 percent more beds than it needs. The goal, based on national benchmarks, is a 5 percent buffer.