Friday, August 17, 2012

Republicans now spending more on Prisons than UW...that didn't take long.


That’s my reaction to the recent “both sides did it” story in the jsonline. You will be amazed at how dramatically our priorities have changed under Scott Walker and the Republicans.
In 2011, Wisconsin state spending quietly hit a milestone: For the first time, the state budgeted more taxpayer dollars for prisons and correctional facilities than for the University of Wisconsin System.

For 2011-'13, Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers allotted just under $2.1 billion to the state's public universities and $2.25 billion to the Department of Corrections. It's a gap that is unlikely to close any time soon.

It's also not the work of a single budget and not the decision of a single party. Rather, the gap is the culmination of years of policy changes and shifting priorities, spanning Democratic and Republican governors…
Blah, blah, blah. The truth? It’s because of the Republicans, period, as the article clearly points out in stark contrast to its above claim.
These days, the growth in corrections spending has slowed; the department surpassed universities in the current budget not because of increasing correctional spending, but because of continued cuts to the UW System.
Who made the dramatic cuts this time around, two cuts to be exact…both sides? No, Walker did.

This also feeds into the myth that tuition is going up because federal dollars are tempting universities to raise fees faster, when actually, they're making up for state cuts in funding. And only some taxpayers will end up paying all the freight, and will not be shared by everyone who benefits.
For students and their families, that means bigger loans and more out-of-pocket spending. 

Eventually, that becomes untenable, said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly. "We're kind of coming up against a wall," Reilly said. "That trend can't continue if we're going to meet, as a people, our obligations to educate ourselves for the workforce."

The trend is shared by many states. In the 1990s, Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson and the Legislature made moves to crack down on crime and instituted "truth in sentencing." In that decade, Wisconsin used its budget surplus to build additional prisons. Late in his second term, Doyle's proposed early release programs took effect, only to be repealed one year later.
Early release would have saved the state money, leaving more funding for the UW. But yeah, it's both sides? I think Rep. Robin Vos’ following promise will tell you where any extra money's going:
State Rep. Robin Vos, co-chairman of the state's budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, said the budget's future is "hard to predict," but for him drastically cutting corrections is off the table, simply as a matter of safety.

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