The agreed upon fiscal year 2012-13 state budget contains two smart policy initiatives that both save money and happen to be good public policy: a state takeover of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) state supplement payment and enactment of a new close to home initiative for low and limited risk youthful offenders.
New York has been paying the federal Social Security Administration, since the inception of SSI, to issue state supplemental payments along with the federal monthly SSI check. As we wrote here, the costs had become exorbitant for what was mostly a check writing process. In agreeing to the Governor’s proposal, the Legislature saves New York State (after a modest upfront investment) $90 million annually.
Similarly, New York has been paying to house low and limited risk youthful offenders from New York City in expensive and often low capacity secure facilities upstate at an average cost of $266,000 annually per child.
Many states, with support from both sides of the ideological aisle, have begun close to home initiatives, moving low risk offenders into community based settings which work better and cost less. The plan shifts responsibility for these youth to New York City, where they will reside closer to their communities and receive treatment as well as the support of family, community based case managers, employers and mentors.
In overcoming parochial union resistance based on the loss of some members jobs in upstate facilities, the Governor and the legislature, instead of succumbing to special interests, enacted the close to home initiative. The result will save taxpayer dollars, reduce repeat offenses and crime and ensure better outcomes for youth.
Chalk both of these up as victories for cost-effective and sensible policies.