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Boys ranch, jail crowding, Affordable Airfares among Sedgwick County’s priorities for 2014 Legislature

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, at 5:13 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, June 26, 2014, at 6:24 a.m.

More money for the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch, reimbursement from the state for housing felons in the county jail and continued support for the Affordable Airfares program are among highlights of Sedgwick County’s wish list to state legislators for next year.

County commissioners on Wednesday unanimously passed a legislative platform that outlines the county’s priorities to state leaders.

The county’s message remains similar to those of past years, with pleas for no unfunded mandates – programs or services that the state requires but does not help pay for – and help with jail overcrowding. Parts of the platform remain virtually unchanged year to year.

The state this year gave the county an additional $750,000 for the boys ranch, which County Manager William Buchanan recommended closing in 2012. That money goes through the state’s current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The county had asked the state for an extra $1.5 million for the ranch, which serves troubled boys.

The county has been pushing legislators to increase the daily rate at the ranch. The state had been paying the county $126 a day per boy, but the county’s actual costs at the ranch had been more than $200 a day per boy.

“While the state considers a longer term solution to improve the entire system, we request continued support” for the ranch, the platform reads.

Support for low-cost airfares remains high on the county’s list of priorities. The county noted an audit showed that the state has received more than $2 for each $1 allocated by the Affordable Airfares program.

The legislative agenda is online at www.sedgwickcounty.org.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SGCountyDeb.

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