Thursday, March 27, 2008

Driving Public Policy with Reps. Long & Loughlin

**UPDATE** Bill passed.

Recently the Daily News published an article entitled, "Republicans oppose prison release plan." What is intriguing is that some Republicans in House debate on the Guv's budget proposal put forth a bill aimed at allowing early release for prisoners and placing us more in-line with other states; thereby saving bucks (millions). This proposal awards good prison behavior with time-off their sentence (there are maxes). "... the proposal came from a study committee formed by the governor to look into the exploding prison population."

"Committee members agreed that it didn’t make sense to give more time off to the worst criminals, Neal said.“The worse your crime, the more good time you are eligible for,” Neal said. “On its face, that doesn’t make any sense.”Those who may be concerned about early release of prisoners should keep in mind that the prisoners being released would be getting out soon anyway, Neal said."

The vote on the bill was put off at the request of House Republicans, oddly enough. It is their Party's Guv who is putting forth the budget.

“I get concerned when monetary policy drives public policy,” said Rep. Bruce J. Long, R-Middletown [& Jamestown].

“Are we making corrections policy for budgetary reasons or correction reasons?” asked Rep. John J. Loughlin II, R-Tiverton [and Little Compton]. “Would this have even come up if not for the deficit?”

These are intriguing, even mildly provocative statements. It drives the question then, what should drive public policy? What part should budgetary concerns play in deciding public policy? How do you jive the Governor's recent budgets which seek severe cuts in public services, et al, and freezes state/school aid? How do you explain the Republican caucus' decision to call for even more severe cuts; e.g., cancelling school unfunded mandates, cutting dept. budgets even more stringently than the Governor put forth?

Sure sounds like the budget driving public policy to me. Cut the budget, please, we don't care where. Oddly enough, I saw neither Rep. at the recent budget hearings over proposed cuts to mental health & Medicare. Talk about the budget driving public policy! Sure would like to have heard them post these questions to the Finance Committee.
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