New proposed budget threatens jobs

New proposed budget threatens jobs

*UPDATE 3/20 10p – Members of the Criminal Justice Committee voted unanimously Monday to kill the proposal that would have eliminated funding for the Downeast Correctional Facility, included in the governor's biennial budget.

"Defunding the facility would have delivered a devasting blow to the residents of Washington County," said Sen. Joyce Maker, R-Washington. "Words can't express the relief we now feel."

The proposal faces one final vote in the Appropriations & Financial Affairs Committee, where it is expected that the body will support the decision to keep the jail open.

MACHIASPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Dozens of jobs are on the line in Washington County and those jobs hinge on Governor LePage's proposed budget. His plan includes a cost cutting move to close the Downeast Correctional facility in Machiasport and add to the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, but it could come at the expense of some workers.

“My husband's been there nearly 20 years. We planned our retirement on this job,” said Sally Dulisse.

But Governor Lepage's proposed budget has the Machiasport facility on the chopping block by June. It is his effort to save the state 5 million dollars. But Dulisse says if it passes, it will ruin their plans for the future.

However, this isn't the first time closure of the facility has been considered. 

“They've been talking about this since my husband's been there-- 20 years,” said Dulisse. “We’re going to close it, we’re going to close it.”

Maine's Corrections Commissioner Dr. Joseph Fitzpatrick talked with employees on Thursday. He told the approximately 50 workers that if the budget gets passed as is, the facility would close on June 10th. Dulisse said that is a hard reality to grasp.

“Your dream is getting closer and closer and then it's gone,” she said.

Dulisse's husband travels 35 miles a day to get to work. She said he does it because jobs in Washington County are hard to come by.
“There's nothing around here for jobs,” she said.

If the facility closes, Fitzpatrick says he will do his best to relocate workers or see if there are vacancies in other state agencies. But for now, the decision rests in the hands of the legislature.

“I hope they come through for us like they did before,” said Dulisse.

The commissioner is looking to relocate the 150 inmates or use electric monitoring bracelets to get them back out into the community-- they say this will save money. 

Copyright 2016 WLBZ


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