Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s criminal justice reforms will save state taxpayers a considerable sum of money, but the state might lose that money due to increased spending on other projects, according to a report released Monday.
The American Legislative Exchange Council released the report, its annual State of the States: An Analysis of the 2019 Governors’ Addresses. The report analyzes the different gubernatorial policy proposals of 2019 presented in each of the 50 governor’s state of the state addresses.
The report mentioned how Lee has proposed criminal justice reforms to make government resources more efficient.
“By allowing community supervision and electronic monitoring of low-risk, non-violent individuals, Tennessee’s justice system will save money by having fewer incarcerated individuals while still maintaining law and order,” the ALEC report said.
“In fiscal year 2017, Tennessee spent $102 million on individuals in community supervision. Comparatively, the incarcerated population was 62 percent smaller than the population in community supervision yet cost 7.5 times more.”
Authors Jonathan Williams, Skip Estes, and Lee Schalk said the benefits to taxpayers are undeniable.
“Unfortunately, the potential budget savings from criminal justice reforms may be lost to increased spending on education, public broadband, mental health and child services. Together, these initiatives are projected to cost Tennessee roughly $92 million and potentially offset any savings from criminal justice reform,” the authors wrote.
“It is also important to note that increased spending on public goods does not always translate into quality. Private sector broadband development delivers better internet connection at lower cost than public initiatives. Tennesseans would be better served with a lower tax burden that would enable rural residents to purchase private options for internet access.”
No one in Lee’s office returned The Tennessee Star’s request for comment Monday.
ALEC’s analysis lists the worst proposals from governors, as well as the best proposals. This analysis was based on the economic policy proposals on matters such as taxation, regulatory reform, labor policy and is guided by the ALEC principles of taxation, according to a press release.
The ALEC Best State of the State Addresses, 2019 are as follows, in alphabetical order by state name:
• Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson
• Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin
• Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant
• Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts
• South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster
“Governors wanting to needlessly raise taxes during one of the healthiest budget periods in recent memory do not respect the hardworking taxpayers in their states,” Williams said in a press release.
“Fortunately for taxpayers, a large number of America’s chief executives moved in the right direction this year and proposed tax relief measures that will make their economies more competitive in the years ahead.”
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Tennessee General Assembly” by Tennessee General Assembly.