I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

50 Insane States

Has every state in the union gone bananas?
There may be some twisted logic to Governor Tom Corbett’s decision to slash education funding and redirect those funds to state prisons. After all, the less we fund education the more likely it is our students will end up as criminals. The less we do to prioritize education now, the more money we’re going to end up spending on prison cells.
Here’s Jamil Smith, explaining the latest Republican assault on public education:
In Pennsylvania, Governor Corbett has a twist on Mr. Scott’s approach, directing the money saved by harsh cuts in education (and state worker rights) to something else: prisons. Public education? Slashed more than any other area. Funding for the state university system, including Penn State? Literally cut in half. Funding for the state’s Department of Corrections? Increased by 11 percenta total of around $186 million, despite its existing burden on the state’s budget.
Ben Waxman makes an astute point about all this prison spending:
Pennsylvania’s prison population has grown by 500 percent since 1980 despite few changes in crime patterns….Throwing the book at minor offenders is a policy choice made by state lawmakers.
If Corbett were serious about cutting all costs, including prisons, he’d identify the problem as our drug-sentencing laws. Instead, he’s throwing money at a broken system and claiming it’s out of his control.
It’s not easy to fill a $4 billion hole, but the first step is correctly identifying the problem.
Then just below, at E.D. Kain's blog, there's this:
Okay, seriously, this is just crazy:
St. Paul, MN – Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all.
On March 15, Angel Buechner of the Welfare Rights Committee testified in front of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee on House File 171. Buechner told committee members, “We would like to address the provision that makes it illegal for MFIP [one of Minnesota’s welfare programs] families to withdraw cash from the cash portion of the MFIP grant – and in fact, appears to make it illegal for MFIP families to have any type of money at all in their pockets. How do you expect people to take care of business like paying bills such as lights, gas, water, trash and phone?”
House File 171 would make it so that families on MFIP – and disabled single adults on General Assistance and Minnesota Supplemental Aid – could not have their cash grants in cash or put into a checking account. Rather, they could only use a state-issued debit card at special terminals in certain businesses that are set up to accept the card.
This set off a few alarm bells for me. If the GOP is going after poor peoples’ cash, what are they doing to blame teachers? (Perhaps unsurprisingly, going after teachers and going after poor people usually happens at the same time.)
So I did a quick Google search and voila! Turns out the Minnesota GOP wants to ban teacher strikes and limit their ability to negotiate contracts to the summer months.
We are collectively losing our minds, in every state, Republican or Democrat. It's weird, and it can't continue without dire consequences.

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