Gov. Nathan Deal’s criminal justice reform bill, which should win final approval on this last day of the legislative session, has been widely applauded for its attempt to reduce the size of Georgia’s prison population.
So a critical editorial in the Macon Telegraph came as something of a surprise. A few paragraphs:
Now the state returns with another schizophrenic proposal to lower the number of felony offenses its responsible for adjudicating. In other words, they want to lower the number of inmates in state prisons. How can it do that? Change the definition of a felony from a $500 to a $1,000 offense. It’s not that a thief stopped stealing, it just means instead of being a state felony it would be a local misdemeanor, and local taxpayers would have to foot the bill.
The state only pays 40 percent of the actual costs of feeding and housing state prisoners. And it leaves them languishing in our jail and others across the state for days and weeks. The carrot lawmakers have presented is an $11.6 million allocation to set up “accountability courts.” Bibb County was a pioneer. Our Drug Court has been in operation for 18 years and has proven beyond a doubt that such courts work. But the carrot the state is offering doesn’t smell quite right because the funding isn’t enough to pay the costs of setting up drug courts across the state. Bibb County Sheriff Jerry Modena said the amount is a “drop in the bucket.”
In an interview with Charles Edwards and WABE (90.1FM), Gov. Nathan Deal explains why this year’s tax reform bill wasn’t more ambitious:
Deal says this year’s tax bill is more realistic than last year’s. The 2011 bill would have cut Georgia’s personal income tax rate. But, the Governor says cutting that rate by a quarter of 1% would have taken $400 million out of the annual state budget.
“Anytime that you make those kind of major sweeping changes from one form of taxation to another you have to be very careful because the constitutional mandate is the budget has to be balanced at the end of the day,” said Deal.
Better Georgia, a progressive group pushing Democratic causes, is a bit late to the game, but has put out this guerrilla video urging urine tests on lawmakers who today intend to require welfare recipients to pass a drug test before receiving any benefits:
Over at Georgia Pundit, Todd Rehm has posted this video interview with Attorney General Sam Olens, who attended all three days of U.S. Supreme Court arguments to decide the fate of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
Olens speaks here after Day Two:
”It was clear that they wanted to hear the merits of the case and the anti-injunction act was not going to bar the lawsuit. Two circuit courts claimed that the anti-injunction act barred the suit. Two federal appellate courts. …There was no difference on the ideologies. Everyone thought we should get to the merits.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider