Friday, July 09, 2010

Two ideas to help the California budget impasse

The annual failure of the California state government to pass a budget on time is underway in Sacramento. The Governator is posturing futilely. The Republican minority is refusing to pass anything, refusing to tax people who have money to pay their fair share for the good of the community.

Since all this happens every year, only those persons whose lives are immediately being destroyed by state government dysfunction are paying any attention. A partial fix is in the works if we want it: Prop. 25, which will be on the November ballot. It would allow a budget to be passed by a majority, though still not allow taxes to be increased by majority vote. It's a start.

Here's an idea the State could implement right now to help bring the budget into balance from James Clark, field organizer for the ACLU of Southern California:

California spends vast amounts of money prosecuting death penalty cases and supporting death row. To avoid executing an innocent person, the death penalty process is long, complicated, and expensive. Each prosecution seeking death costs approximately $1.1 million more than a trial seeking permanent imprisonment, and with more than 700 inmates, California's death row is by far the largest and most costly in the nation. In total, California's death penalty system costs taxpayers $137 million per year.

Contrast that with just $11 million per year if we replace the death penalty with permanent imprisonment. Top that off with $400 million saved if we don't build a new death row, needed because the existing one is so old and overcrowded.

Today, if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were to convert the sentences of all those on death row to permanent imprisonment, the state would save $1 billion over the next five years without releasing a single prisoner.

My emphasis.

Besides the savings ... ending the death penalty is simply the right thing to do.


naomi dagen bloom said...

Sounds like an excellent solution. But way too sensible and humane for application.

libhom said...

Making the rich pay their fair share in taxes would turn deficits to surpluses in California and in NY where I live.