With another multi-billion dollar deficit looming, California faces a tough choice: education or prisons?

May 4, 2010

The season of budget despair is almost upon us in California—as the fiscal year end looms on June 30th and California yet again faces a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, the latest cheery news is that the state’s revenue projections are way down. Tax collections for April were abysmal, roughly $3 billion behind what the state expected, which promises to make an already agonizing budget process even more difficult. So once again California’s legislature and voters are left with tough decisions on what programs to cut and what taxes to raise, and there’s another consideration: the state’s spending gap on prisons vs. education is growing wildly, with some $52,000 spent per inmate for one year of incarceration vs. $7,400 spent per student for one year of K-12 public schooling. Should California be spending that much more on prisoners than on its young students?

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