A matter of priorities

A MATTER OF PRIORITIES…. Watching Republican governors make budget choices is often more interesting than watching Republican lawmakers in Congress, in large part because the congressional GOP cuts taxes without regard for cost. For years, the price tag for tax breaks, disproportionately benefitting the wealthy, are just thrown onto the deficit.

Governors have to go to the trouble of covering the costs of tax cuts with comparable spending cuts elsewhere, and in the process, put their priorities on the table for all to see. This year, that generally means the GOP undercutting schools, but Jamil Smith notes a striking example of these priorities on display.

In Pennsylvania, Governor Corbett has a twist on [Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s] approach, directing the money saved by harsh cuts in education (and state worker rights) to something else: prisons. Public education? Slashed more than any other area. Funding for the state university system, including Penn State? Literally cut in half.

Funding for the state’s Department of Corrections? Increased by 11 percent, a total of around $186 million, despite its existing burden on the state’s budget.

Yes, Pennsylvania’s new Republican governor is putting his priorities on display: in the midst of a state budget crunch, Corbett thinks funding for prisons should go up, while funding for education should face some of the toughest cuts in the country.

Corbett could save on prison costs by reevaluating existing drug-sentencing laws, but apparently that wouldn’t be “tough” enough.

Jamil added, “[T]his is no longer about crowd-pleasing campaign rhetoric. It is about how these brand-new Republican governors are now actually governing. These budget proposals are the stones tossed into the water. Governors like Tom Corbett speak through their budgets, telling students it is more prudent to invest in their future incarceration than in their education. What will be the ripple effect?”

And will that ripple effect include buyer’s remorse for voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Maine, Michigan, and other states that probably didn’t realize the kind of agenda they were voting for in November?