Friday, June 3, 2016

How Austerity Budgets Make Politicians Stupid, Broke and Criminal

And Kentucky Governor Lying Coward is following this script with his costly and ridiculous cuts to Medicaid, kynect, higher education and everything that makes the Bluegrass state worthwhile.

First Kansas, which has no money to open the public school system this fall because of massive tax cuts for the rich and big business.  Then Louisiana, which has no money for anything at all.  Now Colorado.

Colorado Springs will pay back destitute people it illegally jailed because they couldn’t pay court fines, the city announced Thursday.
The city will also discontinue its debtor’s prison policy, which violated both the U.S. Constitution and a 2014 state law in Colorado. The system usually targeted non-jailable offenses like jaywalking, violating park curfews, or drinking in public.
More than 60 victims of the city’s debtor’s prison policy are getting repaid with interest under the $103,000 settlement with the state’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) chapter. Under the city’s previous “pay or serve” sentencing policy, people who couldn’t afford fines for non-criminal violations like panhandling near highways were forced to spend one day behind bars for every $50 the court said they owed. The settlement sets compensation for 66 pay-or-serve victims at the rate of $125 per day they were jailed.
Three quarters of the time, the people jailed for being broke had been brought to court for an offense that carries no jail time under the relevant statute. Yet jailed they were, as the city treated poverty as a criminal offense.
Debtor’s prisons are banned by the Constitution, as the Supreme Court established in the early 1980s. Yet the practice has made a resurgence in communities around in the country in recent years, as cash-starved states and towns enacted a huge number of new fines, process fees, and related courtroom charges associated with non-criminal offenses. All but two states have added fees or increased existing ones since 2010, according to a 2015 review by the Alliance for a Just Society. The threat of jail time for non-payers gives teeth to those stiffer fee structures — and politicians too focused on fee revenues often fail to notice they’re spending more to illegally jail the poor than the fees are even bringing in, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
The increasing reliance on criminal fees for revenue, and the corresponding debtor's prison revival, coincide with the severe budget crunch most communities experienced during and after the financial crisis and Great Recession. Some of that budget pressure was inevitable given how deep a crater the Wall Street crisis created. But in many corners of America, those conditions were exacerbated by decades of starve-the-beast fiscal policy designed by conservatives hell-bent on shrinking government down small enough to "drown it in the bathtub."
The tax-cutting obsession promoted by generations of conservative lawmakers has harsh consequences for all manner of public programs.
That's it, right there. Cutting taxes forces slashes in public services, which hurts the economy, which sends revenues plummeting, which forces more cuts in public services and so on until we have the lords-n-serfs economy Matt Bevin and his billionaire buddies want.

1 comment:

Gerald Parks said...

Yet ANOTHER stellar example and outcome of GOP/Republican Governance in 21st Century America.