Wednesday, October 31, 2007

At Least It's Not Global Warming This Time

As a former state budget analyst, I was immersed at an early age (nearly fatally, perhaps) in how one piece of the public budget had to be considered and balanced against all the other pieces of that budget. That’s why I’m pulling what little hair I still have out over our negligence of the public costs of global warming that will greatly impact or be thwarted by corrections sentencing budgets. But don’t worry. This isn’t another scary climate change post.

It’s a scary transportation budget post.

Governing has a piece on the coming (and here) costs of fixing our state and federal transportation infrastructure, analyzing well how we got into the fix (uh, poor planning, wishful thinking, political hotdogging, yada, yada) and what the prospects are for dealing with it (hint: not good, heads in sand, yada, yada). I know that this stuff isn’t of interest to those in the corr sent field. As I’ve said before, a state DA org director once famously said to us when asked how we were going to pay for all the beds her org was advocating, “That’s not my problem.” Well, actually it is. We’re seeing it already. We’ve mortgaged so much of the future on unsustainable policies (not just in corr sent) and ignored all the cracks, shingles, and paint that have been needed on the house for so long that now, as the rain starts to get in, it’s going to be a flood, not the minor nuisance it should have been. Articles like these are in a fundamental sense about corrections sentencing. That we don’t know that and deal with it isn’t an indication of their irrelevance. It’s an indication of ours.

[And here’s from a different article in the same issue that goes beyond transportation to other areas of future massive state spending, talking about the cyclical nature of policy initiative in our federal system:

. . . The current decade has been a period of state energy and creativity, but also of capricious federal intrusion, often without more than a token fiscal payment from Washington to cover the massive expense that its demands on the states had imposed. The No Child Left Behind law, the Real ID license-security requirement and the ban on state taxation of Internet sales are the three prime exhibits in this category.

And the recent relatively sound condition of state fiscal health is not going to last much longer. The combination of health care costs and other commitments to the aging baby-boom generation will generate serious state budgetary trauma in most of the capitols even before the current decade is out.

Shhh. Be vewwwwy kwy-et. . . . TECHNOCORRECTIONS.]

No comments: