Gov. Mike Beebe leaves office at a good time. A $100 million tax cut is kicking in. The bailout money from Obamacare’s private option Medicaid expansion is in jeopardy thanks to a rising Republican majority. Prisons are overstuffed. A modest pay raise for state employees and teachers would cost millions. The teacher insurance crisis hasn’t abated.
Incoming Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson inherits all these messy facts of life. He also campaigned on a $100 million income tax cut of his own. Hope he brings a magic wand to his new second-floor office.
Speaking of prisons: the Association of Arkansas Counties added its voice today to those talking of legitimate state money needs. County jails are holding state prisoners that the prisons can’t accommodate. The counties are owed millions cumulatively at the state’s current inadequate reimbursement rate and the tab mounts daily even at that low rate.
The county lobby notes:
The Arkansas Legislative Council’s Division of Legislative Audit released Wednesday its annual verification of the State Inmate Cost Per Day report. The Division verified a State Inmate Cost Per Day of $49.35.
The report is based on a sampling of 15 counties’ cost per day reports from 2013.
Last year the Division verified a cost per day of about $46 per state inmate per day.
Counties are reimbursed only $28 per day for state inmates. This amount was set at $25 per day in 1991 and increased to $28 per day in 2001 (at which time transportation of the inmate became the county responsibility).
“It costs the counties 56 percent more to house a state inmate than what the state reimburses,” said Chris Villines, AAC executive director. “With 2,528 state inmates in county jails today, this discrepancy costs counties collectively almost $54,000 per day.”
AAC’s 2015 legislative package does include support of increasing the state reimbursement for inmates held in county jails.
I can’t recall a single member of the majority party that ran for office on a pledge to increase government spending. But I do recall some calling for limiting or even ending parole for prison inmates.