When majority budget leaders in the House of Representatives released their 2011-13 operating budget proposal Monday state Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, was surprised to discover funding for the successful “Becca” truancy laws would be eliminated.
“I get that we’re in an unprecedented budget crisis and I, as much as anyone, have been looking for ways to reduce spending and make government more efficient,” Carrell said. “But the proposal to eliminate support for the Becca laws simply doesn’t make sense. These laws are responsible for reducing the size of our state’s juvenile-offender population, which directly leads to a reduction in the adult-offender population. What piece of legislation can you point to – in any part of state government – that has quietly saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars while reducing the size of a state program by more than half?”
Carrell was referring to the state Department of Social and Health Services‘ Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration program. Since the Becca truancy laws were enacted, the state has closed more than half of the juvenile prisons in the state; something Carrell notes has been a very effective cost-saver during state government’s continuing budget crisis.
“There is a pretty solid majority in the Senate that supports continuation of the Becca laws, not only because of their effect on truancy in our schools but also the long-term effect on the state’s juvenile and adult prison populations,” Carrell added. “This is a prevention program that has been an unquestionable success when it comes to both increasing the safety of our youth and the cost-savings to taxpayers.”