Despite management, Pennsylvania thriving
In the Mirror article on Dec. 15 titled “Lean budget year could bring changes,” it was stated that there is a projected Pennsylvania budget shortfall of $600 million.
Our state is thriving, albeit for a lack of fiscal management.
Pennsylvania is ranked sixth in the United States for its contribution to gross domestic product, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The fact that our GDP rose 2.8 percent in 2015 reflects my view that our state is doing well. The BEA also states that per capita income is slightly higher than the national average of $48,000 (rounded).
This isn’t to say there aren’t areas of concern to me.
State corrections takes a large sum of $2.038 billion. As of mid-December, there were 49,914 offenders, out of which, 32 percent are drug-related offenses. And 25 percent of the offenders are at a low risk for re-offending.
Let’s say we take the 25 percent of low risk offenders out of the system, that is 12,478 bodies. With an average annual cost of $40,868 per inmate, the cost savings of releasing 12,478 bodies would be $509.9 million.
We need to understand that to afford education and medical expenses in our state budgets, we need to look at solutions to this problem.
This quick fix would instantly bring the budget shortfall to only $90.1 million. Then, take into account that you now have 12,478 bodies contributing to the sales tax and income tax brackets.
I absolutely am not endorsing going easy on crime. I am simply offering a solution right now. How to curb the growth of crime is for another discussion entirely. This is a fiscal matter, not a morale dilemma.