Regular readers know I didn't approve of the Senate's penchant for prison spending, but quite a few other criminal justice items proposed in the Senate budget are really important funding for key juvenile and adult community supervision reforms. We'll see how much of it actually makes the final cut. All of these items are in the Senate proposal but not the House:
- $50 million to implement a TYC rehabilitation plan
- $35 million more for community corrections of youth (more important than ever since we're releasing kids from TYC)
- $100 million more for community-based treatment programs for adults.
- $43 million more to bring TDCJ healthcare up to minimum constitutional standards.
- $10 million more to probation departments for basic supervision funds.
Meanwhile, also in Article V of the budget, The Senate proposes an extra $35 million downpayment on new prison building (they'll cost $106 million per year in the next ten future Texas budgets), while House wants to spend $90 million more than the Senate on ineffective pork barrel grants to border sheriffs in the name of homeland security. So that's $125 million in the current budget that is a) controversial, b) motivated by politics instead of good public policy c) that many informed observers think is unnecessary, and d) which requires much larger balloon payments for the next two decades' future budgets.
Make me philosopher king - or Solomon with power to split the baby - and I'd fund the Senate's extra crime prevention and community supervision programs, then ditch the new prisons (experts say they're not needed) and the homeland security pork.
Budgets are about values and priorites. Which of these programs gets funded and at what level will utimately tell us a lot about both the values and priorities of conferees and the Legislature as a whole.
Source: LBB Summary of House/Senate Budget Differences (pdf).