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Backer Says Relocating UT Prison Could Bring 40K Jobs; Critic: "Boondoggle"

February 20, 2013 08:34:08 am

More details and the first public criticism of a proposal to relocate the Utah State Prison emerged during a committee hearing yesterday, where lawmakers were told the project could bring 40,000 jobs and $20 billion in tax revenue over 25 years, says the Salt Lake Tribune. A Senate committee heard from critics, many wearing "No New Prison!" stickers who said it was a "boondoggle" based on financial promises that were unlikely to materialize while benefiting private developers. Jesse Fruthwirth, with the Salt Lake City Prison Divestment Campaign, likened it to an "Obama stimulus plan."

Sen. Scott Jenkins said the current prison is located at the state’s "belly button," a prime location for commercial development. He said a new prison would cost an estimated $550 million to $600 million — less than suggested previously — and that $17 million to $20 million of that expense would be recouped in reduced labor and other operational costs. A new prison would require 315 fewer employees, he said. The bulk of the funding would come from developing the land. Jenkins said the 690 acres the prison currently occupies is worth $70 million to $90 million, but estimated its value at $140 million once available for development.

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