Writings and observations

There’s cutting, and there’s cutting more

For the states, what’s coming will be a season of budget cutting. In Idaho, budget holdbacks are likely – there may be no choice.

In doing that, there’s a temptation to do it simply and “fairly” by cutting across the board. An understandable reaction, but one that often creates as many problems as it solves.

To see why, consider this post from Dennis Mansfield of Boise, who developed a string of post-prison facilities called New Hope.

Offenders, who are drug addicts and are housed in prison, cost taxpayers a substantial amount per day (from $55-$75 per day per person – depending upon the source). Per day! Calc that out per month..and then per year….possibly up to almost $80 million or more per year…funds that could otherwise be spent to keep Idahoans safe from hardened criminals.

If the ex-addict/Offender is elgible for release, he or she may be released to a housing program like New Hope for a little over $11 per day, per person. If the now-ex-Offender/ex-addict can pay for it himself, he/she becomes a self-pay member of New Hope. If the ex-addict/ex-Offender cannot pay, an intermediate quasi-governmental organization called BPA determines if that individual is elgible to recieve a voucher – and therefore receive tax-payer funding of $11 a day (NOT $55-75 per day).

That’s an 86% savings for taxpayers…and that seems like the kind of Budget line-item cut that the Otter Administration wants to embrace.

But will the cut be line-item or more closely calibrated? We may see soon enough.

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