Friday, November 8, 2013

The open line: Gov. Mike Beebe says parole correction requires millions for prisons

Posted By on Fri, Nov 8, 2013 at 2:31 PM

The line is open early. I have some commitments. I may be able to do a roundup later, but maybe not. David Ramsey should get our weekly podcast out before long. Otherwise:

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* BEEBE: WILL SEEK $14 MILLION FOR PRISONS: You might want to read Gov. Mike Beebe's weekly radio address. It's on the parole system. There was mismanagement, "beyond the limits of good judgment or even common sense." The worst case was the repeat violator, Darrell Dennis, now charged with a Little Rock murder. Rules have changed and many people involved in the  Dennis case are gone. The state has been "overly lax" in response to past parole problems. But the bottom line is the bottom line:

These changes will improve public safety, but they are also causing renewed crowding in our prisons and jails. Our backup of inmates sitting in county jails while waiting for Department of Correction beds to open has swelled from 500 to well above 2,000. A significant majority of these people have recently had their paroles revoked.

While we expect this rise in our jail backup numbers to level off, it is clear that more money will be needed to open more DOC beds and pay counties for holding State inmates. Combined, we estimate that meeting those two obligations will require at least $14 million in additional funds for Fiscal Year 2015. That funding will be part of my proposed balanced budget that I will present to the General Assembly in January.

* AN INQUIRY AT MOUNT ST. MARY: A reliable source indicates the Mount St. Mary Academy hierarchy is not happy about the Arkansas Blog report on a recent staff meeting at which Msgr. Francis I. Malone explained to the staff the thinking on the forced resignation of an English teacher, Tippi McCullough, after she married Deputy Prosecutor Barbara Mariani.  I was told of another school staff meeting this morning. Principal Diane Wolfe and  School president Karen Flake reportedly said if a staff member stepped forward today to admit providing information for our report, he or she would receive 30 days' severance pay. Otherwise, if an ensuing investigation identifies a person responsible, firing would come without severance. I can't help with the investigation. But I can recommend Matthew 18 and its counsel on forgiveness. You'd think it was time to put this to rest.

AFTERNOON ADDITIONS:

* THE PRYOR ONSLAUGHT CONTINUES: Now a conservative group is pumping $100,000 into TV ads the next couple of weeks slamming Mark Pryor for voting for "activist" judges like Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. And thus should widen the gender gap for Pryor if anyone pays  any attention. A subtext is putting pressure on Pryor not to join the confirmation of appellate judges for the important D.C. circuit. Republicans are mounting an unprecedented blockade to Obama appointments there because Republicans currently hold the balance of power and they like it that way. Talk about activism. Watch these guys upend laws they don't like. The amount of money spent in the next 12 months by shadowy Republican interest groups is going to be staggering.

* BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Election season is well underway, as you can see from the item above. It took the Secretary of State's office a while, but Mark Martin's crew finally got it done. It finished preparation of the 2014 Arkansas election calendar.   Here it is.

* THE DOCTORS MUST BE SERVED: I recommend Benji Hardy's deeper look at the Legislative Digest blog on a bubbling issue in the health care reform debate at the Arkansas Capitol. It concerns different rates paid medical specialists under new private option insurance coverage — lower than under existing plans. They think it's unprecedented to have different rates for different plans. I guess they'd rather not have all the new customers  that once couldn't afford them at all if it means a little rate discounting. The idea of the rate structure is to drive insurance customers first to primary care doctors before seeking specialists. It's about more efficiency and the new focus on a broad spectrum approach to preventive and continuing care. The wrinkle here is that, in addition to the usual yammering Republicans, the wife of a specialist who sits in the legislature (Deborah Ferguson) and a specialist who's a legislator, too (Steve Magie), both Democrats, aren't happy. Every vote counts in reauthorization of the moving Arkansas parts of Obamacare.We can all agree, can't we, that doctors aren't paid enough. If you don't believe me, ask Sen. Missy Irvin, Republican wife of one. If it weren't for the guns with which her kids kill wild game around Mountain View, they'd probably starve.

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