Pennsylvania: Slashing Education, Boosting the Prison Budget

by Vince Giordano

Ben Waxman describes this puzzling move:

Corbett’s budget includes a $186 million increase for the state Department of Corrections. That’s an 11 percent jump, part of a long trend of skyrocketing state prison costs. Corbett attributes this trend to the personal failings of the people filling the prisons.

Pennsylvania’s prison population has grown by 500 percent since 1980 despite few changes in crime patterns. According to the state Commission on Sentencing, a bipartisan panel created by the legislature, the huge jump is due mostly to mandatory sentences for petty drug crimes.

If Corbett were serious about cutting all costs, including prisons, he’d identify the problem as our drug-sentencing laws. Instead, he’s throwing money at a broken system and claiming it’s out of his control.

The moral of Tom Corbett’s budget story is that much of it is just that: a convenient story.

E.D. Kain gives a eulogy for the Grand Old White Rich Party:

De-funding and de-prioritizing public education while ramping up the never-ending war on drugs is about the most toxic combination of policies you can scrape together. Jamil asks, “What will be the ripple effect” of all these anti-worker, anti-education GOP budgets?

I called Scott Walker’s budget shenanigans in Wisconsin the “real Republican Waterloo” and this is exactly what I was driving at – what will the ripple effects of this overreach be? Conservatives are feeling confident and relishing their little victories now, but public opinion is turning against them. Expect a backlash.

But the damage may very well be done. As I’ve mentioned many times, the anti-teacher crusading has taken on a decidedly bipartisan hue, and the new class war is still heating up.

All of this makes for interesting fodder each day I teach. I can see administration building workers clamping down on procedures and each and every line of the budget in our schools and clubs are being questioned. This isn’t entirely a bad thing. It is calling us to be more careful with the money we spend (and by we, I mean us teachers. This line of duty seems sometimes out of the picture for when, say, superintendents salaries are on the table for a pay freeze).

However, I can see issue with cutting funding to our schools: it cuts down on reinbursements for continuing ed. For some, it may not make a difference but for myself and a few close colleagues, it matters.

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