The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

March 14, 2011

Moving TDCJ headquarters off the table

HUNTSVILLE — State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, sat down Monday with Jerry Madden, a Republican state representative from Richardson, to talk about Madden's House bill that proposes the headquarters of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice be moved out of Huntsville.

Madden placed the idea of moving headquarters to Austin in House bills 2844 and 3386. TDCJ maintains joint headquarters in both Huntsville and Austin which Madden, chairman of the House Corrections Committee, said is a waste of resources.

Kolkhorst and Madden discussed the idea Monday at a meeting hosted by senior staff for Speaker of the House Joe Straus. In a prepared statement, Kolkhorst said she received assurances from Madden that relocating TDCJ headquarters would be removed from any further bill drafts.

“After a frank and serious discussion with Chairman Madden, we both agreed that there are perhaps better ways to address the budget shortfall,”  Kolkhorst said. “I will take Chairman Madden at his word when he told me that any draft moving forward will not attempt to relocate TDCJ from Huntsville.”

This news should bring a small sigh of relief to the TDCJ community in Huntsville, which has already seen the loss of nearly 260 jobs this month.

City Manager Bill Baine said he's relieved the idea is off the table for this legislative session.

“It's great,” he said. “We appreciate the TDCJ headquarters being in Huntsville. We're grateful to Lois Kolkhorst for handling this.”

Madden's bill came as a result of trying to address the state's estimated $27 billion budget shortfall. Other parts of his bill are still active, including revenue-building initiatives, such as charging inmates fees for their health care and cost reductions, such as alternatives to traditional incarceration such as halfway houses or residential facilities. Madden also wants to cut “perks” for TDCJ employees, such as subsidized housing for correctional officers on the grounds of prison units and mileage reimbursements for other employees for traveling to and from work.

 

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