Opinion: What Georgia could teach Trump about budget savings

There’s a saying about government: The budget is policy. No other document, from legislation to campaign materials, represents an administration’s vision and priorities with the breadth and depth of its plan for spending tax dollars.

All $4.1 trillion of it, in the case of President Donald Trump’s first budget.

Trump’s budget for the 12 months beginning Oct. 1 represents a slight uptick in overall spending, not that you’d know it from most of what has been written or said about it. The focus has been on programs that would be cut, from food stamps to Medicaid. Indeed, Trump called it a plan for “streamlined government.” His budget director, Mick Mulvaney, added:

“We’re no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs, but by the number of people we help get off those programs.”

This is a fine and traditionally conservative way to evaluate what the federal government does. Too much of what it does has created dependency and even trapped people below steep “welfare cliffs,” as I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. It is right to want to help people out of those traps, into lives of self-sufficiency.

You may sense a “but” is coming …

But it is one thing to “get people off those programs” by taking the programs away, and another thing to first make changes that help them rise out of dependency on their own.

No prizes for guessing which one is most likely to produce sustainable, even medium-term success. And not only because top congressional Republicans declared Trump’s approach “basically dead on arrival,” as Sen. John Cornyn of Texas put it.

The policy-first approach isn’t tried very often; it’s harder work and requires reformers to have the courage of their convictions. But it was done successfully in Georgia. We called it criminal justice reform.

AJC Photo / Hyosub Shin

When Gov. Nathan Deal took office in 2011 amid a budget crisis, he could have simply announced sharp budget cuts to the Corrections Department and told prison wardens to figure out how to make ends meet. Instead, he said the state would take a different tack to the costly problem of jailing non-violent, low-level offenders: identifying and codifying new policies over several years.

It was clear that, done correctly, these changes would produce fiscal savings for the state. But that wasn’t the main point. The main point was to make changes that would better address the problems these would-be inmates faced — substance abuse chief among them — so they could pay their debts to society appropriately and then get on with the business of becoming productive citizens.

And it was done correctly. The number of Georgians sent to prison in 2015 was 16 percent lower than in 2009 (it was a 25 percent decline for black men). Some 4,100 people suffering from addiction or mental illness were diverted to accountability courts where those underlying issues could be treated and monitored. Juvenile jailings, which cost the state as much as $91,000 per inmate per year, are also down sharply.

As a result, it is estimated the state has saved at least $260 million thanks to the changes. Given the current trajectory, which seems sustainable, that total should only grow.

Washington could take some lessons from our experience — in criminal justice reform specifically, but most important when it comes to the budget and policy. A federal budget that takes 10 years to balance anyway has time to implement reforms and let the savings materialize.

Reader Comments 0

171 comments
Rhonda Boggs
Rhonda Boggs


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breckenridge
breckenridge

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Rhonda Boggs

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breckenridge
breckenridge

The monkey media told you that Trump colluded with the Russians to influence the outcome of the elections. I told you that even if he did, and he did not

Such foolishness.  Neither you, nor anybody that posts here, has any idea whether Trump was personally involved in trying to influence the election.  

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@breckenridge I do not disagree, you can be a total clown and believe that the Russians influenced the elections, if you should so decide. That is your choice. No one is stopping you from making a fool of yourself. We have total, lock solid proof that clinton did indeed collude with the Russians but that doesn't seem to matter to you. I'd love to see the proof that Trump did. Please. Show us. 


You are a fantastically blooming idiot, one for the ages.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Well, I'll just share my comment with myself, then, since the ajc has gone censor crazy, just like all the other fascist regimes have.

malisa_
malisa_

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AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Don't be fooled. I am still a tossoff voter, while the action against the deep state is a pleasant surprise, I still need to see something on tax reform and health care.


Until then, you Repugs can pound sand as far as I care.

Doomy
Doomy

I've seen it all today. A prog who claims to have worked in intelligence at the Pentagon as well as the other 2 intelligence services, who was also a lawyer for 30 years, and who also knew Mueller when he was serving in Vietnam. And yet the same guy can't seem to write 2 consecutive posts without a spelling or grammar error and this "lawya" had the nerve to ask me if I was familiar with "reco". To be honest I couldn't tell ya nuthin bout no "reco" statute but I know plenty about the "rico" statute. Too funny!  

Resist Trump
Resist Trump

@Doomy

You done got yourself trolled boy. Now thass funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Every day, you listen to people who accepted large sums of money from the Russians, say that Trump, who has not accepted any large sums of money from the Russians, was colluding with the Russians. Is this a bit too much for you to comprehend? Are you like, um, really stupid?

Doomy
Doomy

@AndyManUSA#45


To what person do you refer?


A) Hillary who had millions pour into her foundation after the Russian uranium deal. 

B) John Podesta, Hillary's campaign chief, who failed to report stock holdings in a Russian company which is a crime.

C) John Podesta's son whose company has earned millions directly representing Russian interests

D) All of the above. 

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

The monkey media told you that there was a blue wall and that Trump would never win the election. I told you Trump was going to win the election. Who was right? Not the monkey media.


The monkey media told you there was going to be a recount and that hillary would wind up winning the election, after the votes were recounted. I told you that the recount was a scam to soak the moonbats for millions. Who was right? Not the monkey media.


The monkey media told you that Trump colluded with the Russians to influence the outcome of the elections. I told you that even if he did, and he did not, that means he would join a long list of democrats who most certainly colluded with the Russians to influence the election, up to but not limited to selling the country's uranium rights in exchange for campaign donations and who really knows what else. Who was right? Not the monkey media. 


Watch, over the next few days, possibly weeks, as this whole sordid affair gets turned right around and pointed right back at the false accusers. We could see deep staters doing their best Tiger Woods impression. It's not gonna pretty.


If you still listen to what the monkey media is telling you, you must enjoy being a fool.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Wait....wait...wait !!!!

We have a poster below who states because Obama has a degree with honors from Harvard on Constitutional Law that he would not break the law.

Well, riddle us this....

How many times did SCOTUS shoot down Barry's unlawful Executive Orders? 


PS: a good chuckle at the end of the day.

Doomy
Doomy

@JohnnyReb


I'm schooling that poster down below right now. For a guy who claims he worked at the Pentagon and was also an attorney for 30 years this guy sure is ignorant. He's already exhibited this ignorance with several examples of poor English and poor spelling. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Doomy @JohnnyReb

I assume our government still has quotas, they certainly did 30 years ago.

So you can't put too much faith in someone working for the government with one exception.

Our military continues to outstanding.

Doomy
Doomy

@JohnnyReb @Doomy


Read all of this clown's posts. He has at least one example of poor spelling and or poor grammar in darn near every one of them. I just read where he misspelled both Gramm's name and Mueller's name in the same post. And this ignoramus called me stupid. LOL!

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

In addition to stepping in it on Kushner, it should not be overlooked that now with their allegations against Carter Page debunked and shown completely lunatic, the Dems requested his Congressional committee testimony be postponed.

Of course MSM has not paraded out Adam Schiff to ask him about the postponement as they do on every attack against Trump.

Tell me, can anyone without looking it up tell us the name of the Chairman of the House Intel Committee?

With MSM's help I suggest most in the public would tell you Schiff is the chair.

Doomy
Doomy

@JohnnyReb


Yeah. As it turned out Carter's testimony was going to be beneficial to Trump and so of course the Dims don't want his testimony if it doesn't fit their narrative. And the Dims say it aint political. LOLOLOLOLOLOL!

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

If Mueller hasn't shut it all down and sent everyone home by now, Mueller must be a dumba** too.


Vote for tossoff.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@AndyManUSA#45

Andy, you should reconsider throwing your support to Ossoff.

I mean even with putting everything aside but this one factor, it is discouraged.

If Ossoff wins we will never hear the end of it from the LibProgs.

Their verbal diarrhea will be non stop.

Are you sure you want to bare that? 

Doomy
Doomy

Sooooo. The latest outrage from the progs is that Jared Kushner wanted to establish a backdoor communications channel with the Russians in a meeting in December- a full month after Trump had already won the election.


So the logical question naturally arises. Why does Kushner now want a backdoor channel of communications with the Russians if the Trump campaign had already been colluding with the Russians in order to win the election? Wouldn't the Trump campaign already have had a secret backdoor channel of communication with the Russians if they had already been secretly colluding with the Russians???


Sometimes you just have to invoke common sense and show the progs the logical fallacies in their absurd notions of Russian collusion. 



McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Doomy


The campaign was over. So all those colluding campaign officials were out the door. 

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@Doomy I can answer all your questions with one reply, it's because liberals have no brains.


They are dumber than a box of rocks.

Doomy
Doomy

@McGarnagle @Doomy


LOL! So only the campaign officials were colluding and the folks who went from an active role in the campaign to a place in the administration like Jeff Sessions were not colluding. Man. Thass funny! 


And of course they shut down the secret backdoor channel of communication only to want to open a new one a month later. With all due respect that makes not a hill a beans a sense. 


Be serious.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Doomy

Yes, the lunatic claims on Kushner exposes the fallacy of their claims.

Plus they ignore such little things as Obama setting up communications with Russia when he was a candidate - that would be before the election.

If Repubs are smart, which they are not unfortunately, they would record all the ridiculous claims and debunking and have a half-hour infomercial to educate the public on just what they vote for when voting Democrat.

Doomy
Doomy

@JohnnyReb @Doomy


Obama also set up a secret line of communications with Iran so that he could get them that money in exchange for the hostages. Perfectly legal to have these communication channels and various administrations have done so. The first battle has already been won and that was educating the Dim ignoramuses on the fact that backdoor communication channels have always been used and are perfectly legal. 


But its an uphill fight trying to dispel their level of ignorance. We'll keep fighting, though. 

PDPDP8
PDPDP8

@AndyManUSA#45 @Doomy Will try to explain without being insulant. Kushner had a back channel to talk with the Russians and Russian banks. He wanted to then make sure the NSA, CIA, FBI could not intercept or listen in on their conversations so he ask the Russians to use their communication systems as a back channel. 


As someone who worked at the Pentagon and the two other main intelligence agencies...I can assure you this was alarming to all intelligence chiefs. You don't know enough to understand.

PDPDP8
PDPDP8

@Doomy @JohnnyReb Not with Iran's telephone and other communication systems, the back channel was with our systems that were open to be monitors be FBI, CIA, etc.
Obama was totally justified to secure the communication so Isreal, India, Iraq, etc were not involved or abreast of their talks. Might be best

Doomy
Doomy

@PDPDP8 @AndyManUSA#45 @Doomy


"Kushner had a back channel to talk with the Russians and Russian banks."


Sorry. There is zero proof of that. There was a meeting where Kushner discussed a back channel. But there never actually was a back channel. You are either lying or are simply uninformed as to what happened. 


Not to be insulting but your poor English doesn't give me confidence that you really worked at the Pentagon in an intelligence capacity. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

Mueller has given James Comey the green light to testify before Congress.  Sounds like fun, I hope it's televised.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@breckenridge


NBA finals might have to take a backseat to this match up. They should have it televised in primetime.

PDPDP8
PDPDP8

@breckenridge Have no doubt he will leave a cloud of dust for Repubi-cons to panic and try to coverup.  Was in Vietnam when Mueller and he is a straight up person.

Caius
Caius

Re the assorted Russian investigations: 

I trust everyone does understand that the main investigation by the Justice Dept is being done by the Justice Dept of the Trump Administration.  And that "investigations" being conducted by Congress are being done by the Republican controlled Congress.


The big question is when is Trump going to fire Mueller?



Doomy
Doomy

@Caius


If you can show where the R Congress is inhibiting investigation then please show your work. 


And why would Trump fire the man who will end up exonerating him since any rational person realizes that there is not one shred of evidence against him? 

PDPDP8
PDPDP8

@Caius As several Senators (including Gram and McCain) have hinted, if Trump interfered in any way with Mulleur investigation, Congress would hit the fan and bad things would happen, including justifiable criminal charges.

Doomy
Doomy

@PDPDP8 @Caius


That's quite a big "if". The bar for obstructing is pretty high. And as the deputy director of the FBI testified there has never been any obstruction or impediment to the FBI investigation. I'll take his word over some grandstanding senators. Nuff said. 

Doomy
Doomy

@JohnnyReb


Yep. The Obama administration broke the law in a big sort of way, violated the 4th amendment repeatedly, and lied about it to the FISA court- every bit as serious as Watergate. But because it doesn't fit a narrative I think we can expect very little coverage of this from the lamestream media. 


Meantime, we are still stuck on a Russia collusion investigation that gets sillier by the day. Gonna be a sad day when the progs finally come to the realization and acceptance that there's nothing there. 

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Doomy @JohnnyReb


So we have a Republican congress during his term. Why haven't they done anything about this? Or were they too busy going after Killary and her emails?

Doomy
Doomy

@McGarnagle @Doomy @JohnnyReb


Well, obviously the Rs can't or won't kill an investigation no matter how ridiculous it is. Cause then the Dims would just scream that they are obstructing justice and covering up a scandal. Its best just to let the investigation play out and then laugh at the Dims when a big nothing burger results from it all. 


As for Hillary clearly her egregious mishandling of classified data needed to be investigated. Most reasonable people would agree on that. 

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Doomy @McGarnagle @JohnnyReb


I meant why has a Republican dominated congress not gone after Obama when he was committing these impeachable offenses? Seems like a win-win for them.

Doomy
Doomy

@McGarnagle @Doomy @JohnnyReb


Because we just found out about them. The Obama administration admitted to the court 2 weeks before leaving office of its malfeasance and flouting of the 4th amendment. I'm just glad it was Obama. Had it been Trump it most certainly would have been a call for impeachment. 

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Doomy @McGarnagle @JohnnyReb


I ask all these questions because I don't think it was as serious as advertised. I am sure Gowdy and them would have been all over this. Congress has access to classified information as well.


No worse then during the Bush years of surveillance. He wasn't impeach either.

Doomy
Doomy

@McGarnagle @Doomy @JohnnyReb


I disagree. Its a very serious matter. I just think that the Rs have decided to let it go and spend their time working on legislation as opposed to going after a former U.S. president. Not much good can come from that. 


I think we both know that given the current climate that had Trump done this there is no question at all that Dems would be calling for impeachment. No doubt about that. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

@Doomy @McGarnagle @JohnnyReb 

Neither you, nor anybody that post here, has any idea what exactly happened or did not happen in the Russian thing.  So stop pretending you do.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge @Doomy @McGarnagle @JohnnyReb

The investigation started before Trump was elected.

Do you sincerely believe there will be a magic moment where a smoking gun is unveiled and Trump will be in deep doo doo?

If you do, pity you.

If they had anything it would have come out already.

Instead, the Dems are tamping down the talk of impeachment.

And are now grabbing at straws.

PDPDP8
PDPDP8

@Doomy @JohnnyReb Change your name to Looney:  Since Obama has a degree with honors from Harvard in Constitutional Law, I doubt he would be stupid enough to break a federal law....all over above in my previous post on backdoor communications.

Doomy
Doomy

@breckenridge @Doomy @McGarnagle @JohnnyReb


What I do know for a fact is that as of yet there is not a shred of evidence as to any collusion. That is a knowable fact. So until proven otherwise I'll go with the current facts. 

PDPDP8
PDPDP8

@Doomy @McGarnagle @JohnnyReb Let me give you a fact.  Trump could very easily be charged with obstruction of justice by firing Comey.  If some current staff member in the Whitehouse steps forward and testifies that Trump discussed firing Comey prior to Jan 30 to stop the Russian Investigation..according to the Harvard talking head on CNN Trump could be in big time trouble...but like Nixon he'd probably be excused if he resigned.

Doomy
Doomy

@PDPDP8 @Doomy @McGarnagle @JohnnyReb


"Trump could very easily be charged with obstruction of justice by firing Comey."


Wrong! The FBI director, as Comey himself stated, serves at the discretion of the president and can be fired at any time by the president and for any reason. 


And for the 2nd time I will point out to you that the deputy director stated that the investigation has never, I repeat NEVER, been impeded by Trump. Maybe it'll sink in the 2nd time. Facts are facts, sir. 

PDPDP8
PDPDP8

@Doomy @McGarnagle @JohnnyReb Only the Justice Department can approve a "search and seizure of houses, property, etc. The Justice Department has already noted that they approved and released all the search and seisures...which makes them legal.

PDPDP8
PDPDP8

@JohnnyReb @breckenridge @Doomy @McGarnagle The most illegal thing Trump and party could have done was before they were officially elected...Like communicating and degotiating with Russia about Syrian sanction...Ever heard of the Reco Law.

Doomy
Doomy

@PDPDP8 @Doomy @JohnnyReb


2 points, sir. Number one is that this constitutional law professor did illegal recess appointments that were clearly illegal. They were so illegal that he was smacked down 9-0 by Scotus. So much for his constitutional law degree. LOL! You woulda thought he woulda known better. 


Secondly, his administration admitted on the way out the door to the FISA court that they had been illegally violating the 4th amendment with illegal spying for years. The admission came a scant 2 weeks before leaving office. Seems a Harvard constitutional law perfesser would know better. Now what was that nonsense you were saying about having a constitutional law degree???

PDPDP8
PDPDP8

@Doomy @PDPDP8 @McGarnagle @JohnnyReb You're still wrong. No President can interfere with an active investigation against the sitting President. That is what is called obstruction of justice. I've done legal work for 30 years and know the law.

Doomy
Doomy

@PDPDP8 @Doomy @McGarnagle @JohnnyReb


One more time, sir. Maybe the 3rd time it will sink again. Trump never impeded the investigation. There is plenty of testimony to this fact. Will I need to repeat this a 4th time? 


So first you were in Pentagon intelligence. Now you've been a lawyer for 30 years. And yet you've had at least 4 or 5 misspellings in the course of our conversation- not to mention how woefully wrong you've been. You couldn't even spell Israel correctly. And now you want me to believe all these credentials? I simply do not believe you, sir. 

Doomy
Doomy

@PDPDP8 @Doomy @JohnnyReb


Calling me stupid does not alleviate the fact that your constitutional law perfesser did not know the law well enough to know that he could not do illegal recess appointments. Either the man did not know the law or the man simply did not care about the law. So which was it, sir? Tell me. 

PDPDP8
PDPDP8

@Doomy @PDPDP8 @JohnnyReb George W. Bush made 3 recess appointments...almost every presidents have made recess appointments that may eventually be over turned.

PDPDP8
PDPDP8

@Doomy @McGarnagle @JohnnyReb

The events surrounding Watergate and impeachment proceedings against Nixon. ... Night Massacre" on October 20 in which Nixon attempted to fire Cox, but was .... other evidence to be substantial grounds for impeachment of the President. Looney, Nixon was impeached because he tried to fire Cox the Special Council on the investigation against Nixon. Fact