|On a recent Friday afternoon, with budget negotiations winding down, Arizona state representative John Kavanagh was racing against the clock. His position as House Appropriations Chairman afforded him the opportunity to stuff whatever minor extra provisions he wanted into the budget before it went to a vote the following Monday, and he only had a few hours left to do it.
What was Kavanagh frantically trying to accomplish for his constituents at the last minute? Extra funding for education, since Arizona spends less on educating its children than all but three states? No, Rep. John Kavanagh was trying to secure an extra $900,000 gift for the GEO Group, the billion-dollar private prison corporation whose state lobbyists came to him at the last second begging with upturned hats. The $45 million already earmarked for the maintenance of low- and medium-security facilities wasn’t enough, they said.
The Arizona Department of Corrections didn’t ask for the extra money, nor did anybody push for the prison funds to be included in the Senate budget.
"This came out of nowhere — I mean that,” Arizona House Minority Leader Chad Campbell told the Arizona Republic. “No one said a word about it. It wasn't in the Senate budget, it didn't come as a request from DOC. There's something really shady here.”
For Kavanagh, there was nothing shady about sweetening the deal with nearly a million extra dollars. On the contrary, he says, it was a moral imperative.
“If somebody cuts you a smoking deal and helps you when you’re down, and you get more money back, I think you morally have a responsibility to increase the payments,” Kavanagh told the Arizona Republic in a taped interview the following Monday.
Kavanagh is referring to the lowered rate-per-bed the GEO Group offered Arizona as the national economy cratered in 2008. The rate applied to emergency “temporary” beds at two of its facilities to house an overflow of prisoners. In exchange for the discount, the state agreed to meet a 100% occupancy rate for all non-emergency beds at both prisons.
And thank goodness. If it weren’t for the flexibility of the GEO Group, how else could Arizona’s correction officials reach their forecasted benchmark of 43,000 prisoners—a 9.3 percent increase from current levels—by 2016?
In the end, however, the state legislature may nullify Kavanagh’s act of kindness to the private prison industry. Even though the House approved a version of the budget with the extra prison dollars, the Senate Appropriations Committee nixed them, and the two chambers are in the midst of reconciling their different spending plans. [...]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2004—Poll: Most people feel taxes have gone UP:
|Despite Bush's tax cut, most people in a AP poll believe their tax burden has increased:
Half in the poll, 49 percent, said their overall tax burden -- including federal, state and local taxes -- had gone up over the past three years. That's almost four times the 13 percent in the poll who said their overall taxes had gone down [...]
Even when it comes to federal taxes, most in the public don't feel their taxes have gone down over the past three years. Twenty-five percent in the poll said their federal taxes had gone up during that time, while 43 percent said they had stayed the same.
Back in the primary days, a poster suggested the following line for Dean (paraphrased): "Bush put $300 in your front pocket and took twice that out of your back pocket." Kerry should work that similar theme in his stump speech. It's clear that it's a message that would find some receptiveness, and a perception that Bush will be working hard to dispel.
today's rerun of the Kagro in the Morning show, it's the April 16, 2013 episode, and Greg Dworkin, Armando & Meteor Blades join us for reactions to the Boston Marathon bombing. The cautionary reaction, urging people not to jump to conclusions. The many-layered question of terrorism as distinct from crime, and whether that's a real distinction. And the continuing issue some have with admitting there even is such a thing as domestic terrorism. Also: Senate procedure on the gun bill, amendment strategy, and what might go into Harry Reid's decision-making in handling it all.