I solved the state's budget problem

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And you can, too! The Sacramento Bee has a handy tool to evaluate options for closing the budget gap -- and unlike some of the other versions of this I've seen, it actually offers a wide range of revenue options. I cleared up the $26 billion shortfall without cutting anything at all (except prisons; I checked the box for letting out low-level offenders early. I'd go even further, and repeal three strikes and the death penalty, but those options weren't on the table at the Bee).

But you can see from this that the state doesn't have to be broke, failing, in collapse. All we have to do is fix the revenue problem (and yeah, the state does have a revenue problem) and bingo -- problem solved. In fact, I managed to get the state a billion-dollar surplus.

Go ahead, check it out.

Comments

Your solution would be more convincing, Tim, if you could provide certain statistics. For example, among people who are arrested and charged with serious crimes, how many are out on parole for low-level crimes, or have a record of low-level crimes?

My own impression is that the state has a lot of repeat offenders. They move up the ladder of criminality from petty crimes to serious crimes. If such is the case, then isn't it irresponsible to unleash on the public a host of those who will likely go on to do more damage?

In any case, I have to wonder if SF progressives have anything of substance to them anymore.

The big issues that they have been beating the drum for recently are repealing the Pledge of Allegiance, preserving the outdated recycling center in Golden Gate Park, blocking reform of the scandalous add-back system in the budgetary process, and opposing the civil-sidewalks law.

And now they want to unload the prisons on the public.

Is this what it means to be the vanguard of SF politics?

How does it differ from being the rear-end?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

Arthur, I would let anyone serving time for a pot offense out, but the actual proposal is to release low-level nonviolent offenders, many of whom will still have to wear electronic monitors. No, they will not all be coming to sit on the sidewalk in front of your house.

And criminal justice reform has always been part of the progressive agenda.

Posted by Tim Redmond on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

While I disagree with almost all of the SFBG's economic views (for example, I don't believe more taxes is the solution to the budget problems of a state and a city that are profligate spenders) I do agree with this proposal. The state spends a fortune housing convicts, and a lot of the prison overcrowding results from low-level and/or marijuana offenses. There's no reason to keep those people incarcerated, especially at these costs.

And while I'm at it, the death penalty makes no sense, at least at present. Whatever you think about that penalty from a moral perspective, the economics are irrational. Putting someone to death costs a large multiple of keeping them incarcerated for life.

Posted by The Commish on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

According to Caltics, spending per capita in California is at a 39 year low. Therefore, "I don't believe more taxes is the solution to the budget problems of a state and a city that are profligate spenders" is a wildly inaccurate statement.

But because "belief" will always trump "reality" when reality contradicts one's worldview, that last paragraph was a waste of my time, wasn't it?

Posted by guest on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 5:24 pm
Oh,

you're right! A city (San Francisco) with a $6.6 billion dollar budget with a population of 800,000 that spends $500 million per year on non-profits that are not accountable, has to spend $430 million to cover its unfunded pension cost this year and has a $4.4 billion unfunded--i.e., no money set aside to cover it--liability for public employee health care sounds like it's in really in good shape and is being well run. We should be spending more per capita to cover these costs! You and Caltics must be right. Caltics is so credible.

Dripping sarcasm.

Posted by Patrick on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 10:16 pm

The new and overly expensive death chamber was brought about by lawyers (who I would guess are liberal/progressive) and their endless quest to litigate every aspect of the death penalty process.

I'm ambiguous about the death penalty itself, it was ended today by some other means than lawsuit happy scumbag lawyers, I wouldn't have an opinion that strong either way.

These lawyers drive up every cost of the process and then their co-believers complain it's too expensive?

"We've made it so costly and litigious so lets stop doing it, but don't ever do the same to abortion laws"

Posted by matlock on Feb. 08, 2011 @ 6:53 am

Thanks, Tim, for your clarifications above.

You say:

“I would let anyone serving time for a pot offense out…”

Really? How about someone who sold pot to kids? They should get out?

How about the big-time pot dealers in Southern California who collude with the drug-lords across the border in Mexico? They should get out?

You say:

"the actual proposal is to release low-level nonviolent offenders."

Do any low-level nonviolent offenders ever become high-level violent offenders? Has this pattern ever been observed to exist in CA?

You say:

“criminal justice reform has always been part of the progressive agenda.”

Is reform the same as change? Isn’t reform a certain kind of change, namely change that is characterized by intelligence?

Shouldn’t columnists think things through before writing pieces in newspapers?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

Tim,

Are you saying that, using their simulation, you solved CA's budget deficit solely through releasing a small number of prisoners?

Or were there also massive tax increases in there that you somehow omitted to mention?

Posted by Rick on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

OpEd posted above says no such thing.

Posted by guest on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

Er, so what did it say then, genius?

Posted by Rick on Feb. 08, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

Except that Tim is not pairing it with the issue of public employee pension reform. You're not going to get CA taxpayers to pass a tax increase without reforming the pension system for public employees Tim. And you better start learning to deal with it.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

A poll or survey anywhere that says a tax increase on the wealthy is predicated upon a parallel cut in public employee salaries or pensions.

Otherwise, this is idle speculation or more accurately, you're talking out your ass again.

Posted by Jillian Rogers on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 6:29 pm
No

Because I'm not saying they are necessarily tied. However they will be once anti-tax crusaders get hold of them. Tax increases in CA do not have a good record of being approved on a statewide vote - witness the last election. If revenue enhancement is going to be on the table it seems it would have a much better chance of passing were it to be paired with state workers pension reform. Not "cuts in state workers salaries and benefits" either - REFORM.

Your preview of the argument that getting rid of defined pension benefit plans for newly hired state workers is a "cut in public employees salaries and benefits" is a sure-fire loser. State voters are in no mood to be told that new state workers are entitled to benefits they themselves will never experience.

But then again, union hack that you are, I wouldn't expect you to realize that there's a world outside of the SEIU bubble in which you exist.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

You "assume" that the public will demand cuts in salary and pension. When asked to produce evidence of same, you couldn't.

You assume to know what the "mood" of the electorate is without citing a single poll of survey that reflects this assertion. Therefore, it isn't true. It's provable and you refuse to prove your point. Either you can't or you're lazy.

You assume that I'm a member of the SEIU with no proof whatsoever that I am. In fact I am not. Not a member of any labor union at all.

You're a waste of energy, a liar and a coward. And proved it yourself.

Posted by Jillian Rogers on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

You should really examine your own motivations.

My assertion is based on the election results of 2010. You can project your own views onto the electorate as long as you want - but self-deception and willful delusion is a very poor basis for decisions on public policy.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 10:21 pm

She has my vote.

If she's talking out her ass she has enough company that are registered to vote to feel comfortable testing the support at the ballot box. It's late in the game but I think the public gets it. I read about the obscene retirements among law enforcement in the papers today. I'm sure others also read the Chronicle.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 10:53 pm

My guess is that taxpayers will mostly likely turn down any tax increases even if we eliminated pensions and benefits for public employees altogether. After all, the voters turned down the massive tax of $18.00 to fund and maintain the CA park system. Very sad.

Posted by Charley_sf on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

Oh, yes, Rick, there were certainly tax increases. Plenty of 'em.

And Arthur, I think I've made my position on prisons very clear over the years.

Posted by Tim Redmond on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

enough taxes by a large enough amount then you can fill any deficit, assuming of course that the simulation software assumes that the wealthy won't simply relocate to no-tax Nevada.

But the voters have shown zero appetitie to vote for higher taxes and, in any event, that threshold is 2/3.

So what is your plan B?

Posted by Rick on Feb. 08, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

If you tax the wealthy, they'll leave.

And then whose ass would 80% of this message board kiss?

That's a real problem.

Posted by Matty on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

Yes, I tried it, and it's entirely possible to close the budget gap without any cuts to education or services. A tremendous amount of revenue can be generated just by trimming the prison budget and closing unnecessary tax loopholes. Currently, the U.S. incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world. The is largely due to the "war on drugs", which is really a war on people of color, especially African Americans.

As Michelle Alexander writes in her book, The New Jim Crow, this has little to do with the actual crime rate~ "The uncomfortable truth, however, is that crime rates do not explain the sudden and dramatic mass incarceration of African Americans during the past 30 years. Crime rates have fluctuated over the last few decades — they are currently at historical lows — but imprisonment rates have consistently soared. Quintupled, in fact."

Alexander argues that this has led to African Americans being relegated to a "growing undercaste — not class, caste — permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status African Americans."

Posted by Lisa Pelletier on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

...Unless there is a material change in economic conditions. Everyone pays sales taxes and most pay car reg fees. Anyone can phrase a question in a poll to get a desired answer - better to examine recent voting history. It ain't happening Jerry -maybe you'll have to turn the folks your in bed with and tell them cuts are on the way...

Posted by Flowers on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

Some responses to your post above, Lisa Pelletier –

You say:

“Currently, the U.S. incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world.”

One reason is that U.S. males, as a whole, are among the most violent of any comparable male populace in advanced nations. Look at Japan, for example. The perpetrators of violent crimes (mostly men) in the U.S. should not be given a pass. That makes no sense at all.

As to nonviolent crimes, I agree that people should not be incarcerated merely for using soft drugs. Releasing this segment would reduce the prison population somewhat.

However, dealers are another matter. They should not be given a pass.

Also, people who commit low-level crimes that are not drug-related should not be released from jail en masse. Distinctions should be made, based on consideration of the factors that are likely to lead to the person being a repeat offender. Prisoners who are likely to offend again, and with worse crimes, should not be released.

You say:

“this has led to African Americans being relegated to a ‘growing undercaste — not class, caste — permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status African Americans’ ”

Do you maintain, then, that a rapist should not be prosecuted and incarcerated if he is an African-American?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Feb. 07, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

Certainly releasing all nonviolent drug us offenders, plus all petty shop lifters from incarceration and repealing the 3 strikes, and the death penalty would be a good way to cut very expensive prison programs.
Also taxing the oil corporations by imposing an oil extraction (depletion) tax, plus a O.5% tax on all speculative financial stock transactions would go a long way to solving the state deficit crisis.

Posted by Guest Larry Rose on Feb. 08, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

The reasont that African American men and Latinos are being incarcerated in unprecedented numbers has to do with the "war on drugs", not violent crimes, as I made clear. As Alexander points out, white people are more likely to engage in drug dealing than African Americans, while the incidence of drug use for both groups is about the same. Yet African Americans comprise 80%-90% of all drug offenders sent to prison.

I posted Michelle Alexander's piece, "The New Jim Crow", at As It Ought to Be (AIOTB) on March 15, 2010 during my brief stint as an editor. Unfortunately, I am unable to attach the link to that piece because SFBG rejects it as "spam". But it's well worth reading in full, if you get the chance (just google it).

Finally, I left out an important sentence in that quote: "These men are part of a growing undercaste — not class, caste — permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits, much as their grandparents and great-grandparents were during the Jim Crow era."

Posted by Lisa Pelletier on Feb. 08, 2011 @ 6:58 pm

Lisa, we agree that jailing people merely for using soft drugs is foolish.

However, prison rates in the U.S. would still be high, even if many nonviolent offenders were released.

You seem reluctant to face up to a glaring reality: The violence of American males, overall, is high compared to men in other developed societies.

You also seem reluctant to face up to another fact: Most violent crimes in most societies throughout history have been committed by men. This pattern is true regardless of the economic system - capitalist, feudal, or pre-agricultural.

The human male is the most violent animal in nature. American males, in particular, are among the most violent males in advanced societies.

Why do you avert your eyes from these realities? Why can't you bring yourself even to mention them?

What's the cause of your pattern of denial?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

Arthur, if your strategy is to derail the discussion by tossing out unproductive tangents, I see no reason to carry this conversation any further. In fact, we weren't discussing an option to release violent offenders as a solution to the budget gap, were we? So, what does this have to do with the price of beans, pray tell? For what it's worth, my view is that the trend towards incarcerating more and more people of color and immigrants has more to do with systematic racism and the profit motive. (Wall Street firms are profiting greatly from the trend towards privatizing prisons). I'm glad we agree on one thing~ jailing people for petty drug crimes is a waste of taxpayer dollars. And I agree that America is a violent nation, no question about that. That said, I have no intention of debating you on this topic all the way down the page.

Posted by Lisa Pelletier on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

This whole idea that rich people will leave California if we tax them is nuts. You think people who live in Malibu are going to move to Elko because of a tax increase that will have absolutely no impact on their lives? Please.

Posted by Tim Redmond on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 10:31 am

Lisa, you say:

“we weren't discussing an option to release violent offenders as a solution to the budget gap, were we? So, what does this have to do with the price of beans, pray tell?”

If the U.S. prison population remains large, even after low-level offenders are released, then what’s the point of making a big fuss, as you do, over the fact that the U.S. has a large prison population?

If low-level offenders are released without a regard for their likelihood of becoming high-level offenders, is that wise?

You say:

“my view is that the trend towards incarcerating more and more people of color and immigrants has more to do with systematic racism and the profit motive.”

Some people believe that it has more to do with the impending end of the world and the last judgment.

Dogmatic belief is one thing, evidence another.

You say:

“I have no intention of debating you on this topic all the way down the page.”

You always have the option of remaining silent in the face of probing questions.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

Arthur, if you're being paid, as Eric seems to think, your downtown handlers aren't getting their money's worth. That's all I have to say.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

Guest, you accuse me of "anonymity," although I post under my real name, while you use a pseudonym.

There's nothing progressive about self-contradiction.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Now shout Arthur, shout out loud!

Free that Stoic testosterone from its eunuch bonds.

Posted by Ian Waters on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 11:38 pm

You're a great example of the incivility you so despise Arthur.

You never respond when you're called out.

Truth to power Arthur, you wish you could.

Posted by Ian Waters on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

They both have the same level of coherence. Then again, coherence is not widely valued in certain political quarters. So who knows, right?

In any case, back to the topic of this thread, the state's prison system would remain well populated even if non-violent offenders who not likely to become repeat offenders were released.

The prisons are full because many people are committing crimes, and most violent crimes are committed by men.

Such are the facts of life. Rhetoric cannot dispel them.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 11:58 pm

I'm not a political person Arthur, I gave that up many years ago.

Don't drop you guard now sir, the final round is upon us.

Posted by Ian Waters on Feb. 11, 2011 @ 12:18 am

Arthur, for someone who loves to inject incoherent tracts and tangents and knowingly posts under pseudonyms, it is rich to see you level an accusation of contradiction against somone for said same fact.

Google yourself Arthur Evans. Chrysippus.

Its remarkable how the same tired boring old remarks show up again and again. I'm assuming there's some search algorithm that the folks at google are working on to remove that, but they're probably tired of it.

You're a big fat hypocrite Arthur, a boring an incredulously dull one at that, a bad reader and well I won't criticize your ability to write, but I had to put your treatise down.

Chrysippus? Really? Jesus wept and asked for a groupon to a better life.

Posted by Ian Waters on Feb. 11, 2011 @ 12:25 am

Arthur, for someone who loves to inject incoherent tracts and tangents and knowingly posts under pseudonyms, it is rich to see you level an accusation of contradiction against anyone for the said same fact.

Google yourself Arthur Evans. Chrysippus.

Its remarkable how the same tired boring old remarks show up again and again. I'm assuming there's some search algorithm that the folks at google are working on to remove that, but they're probably tired of it.

You're a big fat hypocrite Arthur, a boring an incredulously dull one at that.

Chrysippus? Really? You couldn't do better than that? From hundreds of years of philosophy?

Read something modern Arthur. For the love of Stoic "wisdom" and their lovely wizard cloaks and shit.

Posted by Ian Waters on Feb. 11, 2011 @ 12:27 am

I had to redact my own laughter at the groupon jesus joke.

Posted by Ian Waters on Feb. 11, 2011 @ 12:30 am

Chris Daly and his followers lowered the quality of political discourse in the city. They emphasized ad hominem attacks in place of debates on the issues. They were anti-intellectual and paranoid.

This pattern of incivility is partly responsible for the recent decline of SF progressivism. Daly is no longer in power, but the incivility he championed is still endorsed by many.

Progressives will have to address and correct this problem, or they will never make a come-back. The voters want better.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Feb. 11, 2011 @ 11:58 am

Dear Mr. Evans, were you civil and decent, you would deserve a civil and reasonable debate.

You fill comment board(s) withh the same repetitive rhetoric. You don't offer any lucid debate, you offer rhetoric. If one was to "google" you. The same rhetoric appears again and again. How is that offering anything towards a debate?

Aren't you just shouting the same thing? Over and over?

Don't you dare speak for the voters.

Run for election, then address that.

You are a stoic coward. A fool. Mislead.

Wake up.

Posted by Ian Waters on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

For what it's worth: when I vote (and i doubt you actually do) I vote with conviction that assholes like you have zero influence on the candidate I elect.

Yes, I called you an "asshole", why? Because I know you'll respond with the same cut and paste "philosophy" you always do. That is sad.

Posted by Ian Waters on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 10:38 pm