The cost of imprisoning each of California's 130,000 inmates is expected to reach a record $75,560 in the next year, enough to cover the annual cost of attending Harvard University and still have plenty left over for pizza and beer.
The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase. The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation's highest and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard. For example, the corrections department has one employee for every two inmates, compared with one employee for roughly every four inmates in 1994.
California will contribute about $1.3 billion to its Medi-Cal expansion this year, a new expenditure that will further strain an already burdened health care budget.
This year marks the first time states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act will have to pitch in to help fund their expansion of the program. Their share of the overall price tag compared with federal contributions is small – 5 percent of the cost to cover newly eligible enrollees – but that still equates to real money in the Golden State.
That’s because the expansion of Medi-Cal, California’s version of the federal Medicaid program for low-income residents, has added nearly 4 million additional enrollees, according to the state Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). Most other states don’t have that many enrollees in their entire Medicaid programs.
With questions mounting about the legal justification for omitting some $22 billion in expenses from California's long-standing spending cap, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration dropped the plan Thursday while promising to work on the issue again later this year.
State law protects Cal Grant recipients from tuition increases at UC or CSU: when tuition rises, so do these students’ Cal Grants. Consequently, as tuition has increased and enrollment of low-income students has expanded, the program has grown rapidly. Next fall, tuition is scheduled to increase by $280 per year at UC and by $270 per year at CSU. In addition, UC, which has enrolled 7,400 new undergraduates in each of the last two years, plans to enroll an additional 2,500 in the fall of 2017‒18, the largest three-year increase in seventy years. CSU has added around 50,000 additional students over the past five years. The expansion of Cal Grants has drawn the attention of the governor. He noted in his May budget revision that "rising Cal Grant costs from tuition hikes will also limit the state’s ability to increase General Fund support in the future.”
No state needs to reform the relationship that governments have with public-employee unions more than California. Yet lawmakers keep going in the wrong direction. Contract negotiations between government and the labor unions who represent the public employees should be transparent. Too often, both sides are working toward a common goal – a generous deal for the unions. Simply put, there isn’t much bartering between state and local governments and the public-sector unions. Union bosses secure the contracts they want because there is little push back during collective-bargaining sessions. This arrangement has been finely tuned. Unions have for decades delivered cash and manpower to elect friendly candidates to state and local office.
. . . Assembly Bill 1455, which is currently awaiting a State Assembly vote, would conceal the material content of collective bargaining talks with public-employee unions from taxpayers, who have to pay for above-market wages, hordes of duplicative and often unnecessary positions, and luxurious retirements.