The plan to expand the Winfield Correctional Facility has been scrapped as part of budget cuts by Gov. Laura Kelly to deal with revenue shortfalls caused by the coronavirus fallout.
The nearly-$10 million expansion project was meant to provide space for elderly and chronic care inmates with problems such as Alzheimer’s and traumatic brain injury that require assistance with daily living.
It would have renovated two unused buildings, Triplett and Funston halls at the Kansas Veterans Home, and provided for a new dining facility that would allow WCF to move its food service operations out of the nearby veterans home.
But the expansion was put on the chopping block as Kelly’s addressed a $600 to $700 million budget shortfall for next fiscal year, which starts Wednesday.
Her plan includes $40 million in unspecified spending cuts and pares back spending increases in multiple agencies. The plan also would delay repaying $264 million in interest-free internal borrowing used to cover past budget holes, among other accounting moves.
The Winfield project was predicted to add 241 beds to WCF and around 119 full-time employees, including 69 security positions and 32 contract health care staff. Work would begin in 2021 and the units would open in mid-2022, according to Keith Bradshaw, executive director of contract programs and finance for KDOC.
A spokesperson at the Winfield prison said last week she thought the expansion project was just on hold until the Legislature funded the budget. But a Kansas Department of Corrections spokesperson said on Friday that the expansion is no longer part of the budget at all. In fact, he called the governor’s office to confirm that information before speaking with a reporter.
“Today, Kansas Department of Corrections facilities are at 86 percent of capacity, largely due to reduced admissions due to closure of Kansas Courts, which gives KDOC the flexibility to manage the current budget situation that canceled the proposed project,” Randall Bowman, the KDOC public affairs director, wrote in an email. “Moving forward, criminal justice reform in Kansas will be critical to address decades of underfunding in our system.”