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State Rep. Clouse: ‘Conservative’ prison plan could see construction begin on Elmore, Escambia County facilities ‘probably around February’

With Monday’s special session approaching, more details are surfacing about what the end result may look like if the Alabama Legislature green lights a proposal that could mean at least two new mega-prison facilities, as well as having a number of other existing facilities renovated.

State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark), the chairman of the House General Fund budget and an integral figure in negotiations that have taken place between the Governor’s office and members of the legislature, struck an optimistic tone about the deal during an appearance on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show.”

According to Clouse, what he deemed to be a “conservative plan” could be implemented despite the setbacks that have prevented a final outcome in the past.

“Well, it is,” he replied. “This thing has gone in different directions over the last five years. Back when Governor Bentley presented a bond proposal at that time in ’16, and it looked like it was pretty close to passing, and we ran out of time. It looked like it would pass in ’17, but Governor Bentley got into his issues and had to resign from office. That knocked that out of the way. Last year, we had to suspend the session because of COVID.”

“[I]t is a conservative plan,” Clouse said. “It is phased in based on once one project is finished — phase one is actually two projects, Escambia and Elmore County. We can go on to phase two. It’s a plan for the next 10 years. We can help get these facility issues settled here in the prison system.”

With a possible $400 million in federal relief money, $150 million cash-on-hand from an unexpected general fund surplus and a potential $785 million in potential bonding, the Dale County lawmaker said the project could be underway as early as the first quarter of 2022.

“We had a surplus, then we had more than what we anticipated,” he added. “The general fund receipts have been very good here over the last six or seven months. That’s going to enable us to go ahead and buy this Perry County facility with cash and put an additional amount of cash in there to get these projects started in Elmore and Escambia [Counties], so we can start putting shovels in the ground first quarter of next year, probably around February while we’re getting the bond issued at that time. So, that has really helped us a lot from that standpoint.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.