Tuesday, January 26, 2010

LAO: Prisons v. Universities Expenditure Measure Unwise, Unflexible

(graph courtesy http://www.lao.ca.gov)

More interesting items today on the Legislative Analyst's office website: This time, LAO examines the Governor's proposed constitutional amendment to limit correctional expenditure to 7 percent of General Fund support and to set a minimum of 10 percent for California public universities.
The report is far from enthusiastic about the proposal. While LAO supports efficiency and savings (see yesterday's post on their recommendation to add GPS monitoring as a prison alternative), the report recommends against adopting the Governor's proposal. As specified in the report, the measure ignores the impact of student fees on university revenue, highlights two budget items rather than examining the whole picture (thus constraining General Fund usage for a large percentage of the budget), and leaves open the question of using the increased university funding for public benefit. As to corrections, the LAO report reminds us of the principle that Frank Zimring refers to as the "correctional free lunch": correctional expenditures are not managed solely on the state level, but actually dictated on the county level, where sentencing takes place. Moreover, as LAO points out, a constitutional amendment is unnecessary: a simple budgetary decision would suffice.
props to Eric Chase for sending this my way.

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