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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: Fixing the California Budget

Plus, how to lower prison costs and eliminate the FCC

April 2, 2010

- Fixing the California Budget
- The Outrageous Costs of California Prisons
- Get Rid of the FCC
- Are the Tea Parties Racist?
- President Obama Takes Significant Steps Toward Global Nuclear Disarmament
- New at Reason

Fixing the California Budget

Each year, the governor and state agencies create wish lists for next year's budget based on how much they are spending this year. Unfortunately, despite a $20 billion deficit, results - whether or not programs are actually working - rarely factor into this equation.  A new Reason Foundation study, written by David Osborne, who led the Clinton administration's "reinventing government" efforts, offers a better path, showing how California can use "Budgeting for Outcomes" to balance the books. The Reason Foundation report, The Next California Budget, urges the governor and legislature to start from scratch. Rank education versus transportation versus state prisons and evaluate specific programs within these areas. Not everything can be funded, so what are the state's specific goals and top priorities?  What are citizens demanding and what are they willing to live without? This new report shows how to build a better budget from the ground up.

The Outrageous Costs of California Prisons

Every inmate in a California prison costs taxpayers over $47,000 a year. California spends three times as much per prisoner as Texas, which has nearly as many inmates. Texas spends $42.54 per inmate each day, while California spends at least $132.98 an inmate every day.  Florida, with the third largest inmate population in the country, spends $52.90 a day per inmate.  Because of the state's astronomical prison costs, a new Reason Foundation-Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation study finds California could save $120 million a year for each 5,000 inmates it sends to private prisons in other states. The report details a five-year prison privatization plan that would save California taxpayers $1.8 billion over that span by gradually transferring 25,000 inmates out of state.

Get Rid of the FCC

"When the FCC was launched in 1934, backers argued that airwave scarcity justified its existence. In an age of information overload, with a nearly infinite array of media choices available to anyone with a mobile phone or broadband connection, no such argument can be made. Yet rather than shrinking, the FCC has ballooned, growing its budget by more than 60 percent between 1999 and 2009. If something exists anywhere near the realm of technology or communications, the FCC tries to make it its business. But to what end? And at what cost? A 2005 study by economist Jerry Ellig estimated FCC regulations cost consumers up to $105 billion a year in additional costs and missed services. Throw in its own $338 million budget, and it is time to pull the plug on the FCC." - Reason magazine's Peter Suderman in the Washington Times.

Are Tea Parties Racist?

Reason magazine's Michael Moynihan says "if the country's largest newspapers can accuse those assembled to 'kill the bill' of being motivated by racial animus, 'eliminationism,' Nazism, or old Dixie nostalgia, is it so unfair to ask for verifiable proof? It isn't unreasonable to think that amongst the Tea Party protesters one can find the ignorant and hateful. Many of the protesters seem to believe that the president of the United States of America is a communist, demonstrating that they have a level of historical understanding on par with Frank Rich. But that critique is something rather different than imputing a racist motivation to anyone deeply concerned about an enormously expensive health care bill. Some of this is the problem of now, of rendering apocalyptic judgments about events that are only just unfolding." Jesse Walker: The Paranoid Center

President Obama Takes Significant Steps Toward Global Nuclear Disarmament
Reason magazine's Ronald Bailey writes: "[President] Obama and Medvedev will sign the new nuclear arms reductions treaty at a meeting in Prague next week. The president promises to submit that treaty for ratification to the Senate later in April. This is no time for partisan grandstanding-previous nuclear arms control treaties with the Russians have been ratified by lopsided margins, with more than 90 senators in favor. Ratifying the new treaty with Russia and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would be significant steps toward the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. We should take them."

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Reason magazine's Complete April Issue

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