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Right on Crime: Conservative Values to Create Justice Solutions

Mike Klein

Conservatives who want to change criminal justice public policy have another new resource at their disposal. Right on Crime will be unveiled by the Texas Public Policy Foundation during a Wednesday news conference and panel discussion at Americans for Tax Reform headquarters in Washington DC.

Right on Crime is a disciplined commitment to bring conservative values to justice solutions much as conservatives focused earlier on education.  It leaves the starting gate armed with a robust website supplemented by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.  Early support is coming from conservative icons Newt Gingrich, Edwin Meese and many others.

Project founder Marc Levin is Director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.  Levin is a frequent national speaker and just last month he joined the Georgia Public Policy Foundation legislative briefing criminal justice panel.  When we spoke Tuesday afternoon I asked Levin what concerns him most about criminal justice public policy.

“The thing that keeps standing out to me is the broader question of accountability and results,” Levin said.  “It seems to me that with criminal justice systems, at every stage funding expands based on the number of inmates and people on probation.  We know how many people are in the system, but what is the recidivism rate?”

Levin pointed to the obvious but disturbing statistic that criminal justice system state and local spending grows when inmate rehabilitation fails.  More prisoners result in more spending.  More people return to prison when they have not been rehabilitated, which requires more spending.

“By in large, front line people are trying to do their best but I think we have a system in place that doesn’t really reward results,” Levin said. “If you look at education, conservatives pushed merit pay and accountability but I see criminal justice being way behind education.  I really think there is a great need for conservatives to bring the same scrutiny to criminal justice.”

Right on Crime’s primary website and other social media products are designed to influence how legislators think about justice policy.  Conservatives won new majorities in 19 statehouses and more than 600 new conservative state legislators will take office next year.  The opportunity to address effective justice policy from a conservative viewpoint might never have been better.

The Right on Crime new website contains writings by free market think tank journalists and analysts.  Levin said the project will emphasize juvenile justice and victim issues.  There are 22 state profiles, including one for Georgia.  The site contains subsections on principles to reduce crime, reduce costs, reform offenders, make restitution to victims and protect communities.  The Georgia Public Policy Foundation endorsed Right on Crime’s statement of principles.

Several videos are posted on the organization’s new YouTube channel.  Facebook is finding friends and reporting news; the first item: Texas must cut some $300 million from corrections because of budget shortfalls.  Twitter is the home for justice news updates from across the country.  The primary website also supports an RSS feed.

Levin will be joined in Washington by Texas Public Policy Foundation president Brooke Rollins, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Pat Nolan of Justice Fellowship and David Keene of the American Conservative Union.  Folks who want to know more can visit RightonCrime.com to register for an electronic newsletter.

Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Georgia Revenue Up But Still Lags Behind 2008 and 2007

Mike Klein

Georgia announced November monthly net revenue collections that again provide indication the state might be slowly working its way out of the three-year recession. Georgia posted a sixth consecutive year-to-year monthly gain. The fiscal year is up 7.4 percent.

November collections totaled $1.268 billion, up $79.646 million from $1.188 billion in November one year ago. Net revenue is up almost $435 million after five months in the year-to-year comparison.  But a longer view suggests there is still a long road ahead before the state enjoys genuine fiscal good health.

November collections this year are far below $1.419 billion in November 2008 and $1.399 billion in November three years ago. Economists often point to December 2007 as the beginning of the recession, and some contend the recession ended in summer 2009. Others argue the recession will not end until unemployment returns to traditional levels, which might take several years.

Georgia legislators return to Atlanta in January. Challenges for the Republican – dominated General Assembly include economizing government, writing a Fiscal 2012 balanced budget and approving a tax code to change how the state earns revenue to support $18 billion in annual spending.

The Fiscal 2012 budget that must be in place before July 1 is generally considered to be about $1.7 billion short,  One reason is Georgia will lose $1.2 billion in federal stimulus funds.  This year those dollars paid for education, roads and lots of other projects, big and small.

An appointed council of economists and private industry executives that began working last summer will make new tax code recommendations to the General Assembly before Republican Governor-elect Nathan Deal’s inauguration office on Monday, January 10.

Sources familiar with the Georgia Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness expect proposed reductions to current personal income tax and sales tax rates. There could also be proposed changes to the corporate income rate and a long list of tax exemptions might be eliminated

Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment