A Better East Texas: Prison Budget Cuts

I received some emotional feedback on one of my last Better East Texas segments where I suggested that teacher furloughs and increased class sizes were a possible component in addressing the state's budget needs. Everyone I heard from was passionate about not cutting funding to education. A big part of me agrees with that, but I'll ask the question again – where would you cut?  For the most part, state legislators have promised not to raise taxes to help with the 15-billion dollar budget shortfall. So the answer has to be in reduced expenses. Another component that is being batted around is that funding for the state's prison system will be reduced. This would be on top of a five percent reduction in expenses in 2010. If the prison system is facing dramatic cuts in funding, then there is a high probability that job cuts affecting close to 5-thousand workers will follow. That will result in shorter prison stays for inmates and also a reduction in services in the areas of counseling and rehabilitation. Texas has the second largest prison population in country and this is a huge expense to the state and thus is a natural target to make a measurable difference in the budget. So this continues to be a time to contact our state lawmakers and let them know what our priorities are as even our safety is now on the line with the state budget crisis. Sitting back will ensure special interests will drive the discussion, but keeping in contact with our representatives will make this a Better East Texas.