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Vote to cut 63 public safety jobs delayed

The Maryland Board of Public Works postponed a vote Thursday on a proposal by the Hogan administration to eliminate 63 jobs in the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

The board's three members— Gov. Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp — agreed to revisit the proposal at their next meeting in August.

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Franchot made the motion to delay the vote. There was no discussion.

Spokeswoman Michelle Byrnie-Parker said Franchot "wanted more time to carefully consider the item, given the ramifications."

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The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services runs the state prisons and parole and probation service. Administration officials say the state would save $3 million by cutting 63 human resources jobs in the department.

The department has faced questions about both the pace and quality of its hiring. Administration officials point to hundreds of vacancies, many of them for frontline corrections officers, that have yet to be filled. The department has been mired in scandal in recent years over corrupt relationships between officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center and prisoners in their charge.

More than 20 employees drove to Annapolis from as far away as Cumberland and Salisbury to attend the board meeting Thursday.

Employees said they help guide correctional officers and other employees through the hiring process and answer questions about health insurance, on-the-job injuries, bereavement and retirement.

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Patrick Moran, president of AFSCME Council 3, said 21 of the job cuts would affect union employees. Some of the jobs slated to be eliminated are vacant.

Moran said the union received official notification of the plans on Wednesday

"That's not in the spirit of working together," he said.

The department has said there are "long-standing issues" in human resources that need to be fixed. Under the proposal, human resources functions would be consolidated into five regional offices, rather than having HR employees in each prison. The administration says the plan would be more efficient.

Moran said the problems in HR lie with middle management, not with the workers who carry out day-to-day tasks.

Hogan returned to chair the board after missing its last two meetings.

Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford filled in for the governor while Hogan was on a trade mission to Asia and the day after the governor announced he has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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