Really? More criminal penalties are the answer? I'll ask again: Why are increased criminal penalties seemingly the only solution the Lege can imagine to every problem that crops up? Making the suggestion more problematic, we learn deep in the article that the agency appears to have gotten around the legislative limits without actually "violating the Appropriations Act":
privately, other officials familiar with the budget laws said one problem with enforcing the pay-raise ban is how it was written.The Legislature has plenty of ways to punish agencies that flout their budgetary wishes. They've already run the executive director who authorized the raises out on a rail. And ironically, the new E.D. is using the same method to rescind raises which was adopted by his predecessor to allow them: Reported Ward, "no one lost their jobs in Thursday's reorganization, but some reassignments came with pay cuts for several former top officials."
The budget law contains a so-called rider that prohibits the juvenile-justice agency from giving raises to eight top officials above their base rate of pay on Aug. 31, 2010.
The term "base rate" is not defined. And several of the officials said that several officials who got raises had their job titles changed, which also got around the rider.
As Grits has written before, "If the only tool you own is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, the saying goes. And thus for too long a bipartisan tool shortage has encouraged reformers of all stripes, and from all points on the political spectrum, to reach first for solutions involving police, courts, fines and punishments instead of other less coercive strategies." Certainly new criminal statutes weren't necessary to resolve this situation.
Whether or not one thinks the raises were inappropriate, it's over now and time to focus on more pressing concerns.