Today's Cannon: The Mental Health Crisis, Tax Breaks, and Pension Reform.
Jun 14, 2018 | 603 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ignore the noise and stale talking points. The Cannon connects today’s news with the research and opinion you need from TPPF’s top experts. Stay informed with insight that promotes freedom, personal responsibility, and free enterprise for all Americans.
 

 Mental Health Crisis

What to Know: A new investigation by Reuters shows that people in jail often lack access to help for mental illness.

“Across the United States thousands of jails are sheltering a wave of inmates accused of crimes and serving time while suffering from illnesses ranging from depression to schizophrenia,” Reuters reports. “The shift is a byproduct of the plunging numbers housed in psychiatric inpatient treatment centers, a total that fell from 471,000 in 1970 to 170,000 by 2014. In Louisiana, the fallout exacerbated after a former governor shuttered or privatized a network of public hospitals that provided medical and psychiatric care to the accused.”

 

The TPPF Take: Mental illness should not be a crime.

“There are no easy answers or quick fixes for Louisiana jails’ mental health crisis,” says Elain Ellerbe of Right on Crime, a TPPF project. “Just as Louisiana did not become the number one incarcerator in the world overnight, neither did the state of mental health services provided to offender populations become so dire overnight. Along with the continued implementation of criminal justice reforms in Louisiana, local law enforcement, courts, and mental health professionals must work together to ensure that the mentally ill are not incarcerated because of their mental illness.”
 
For more on the Mental Health Crisis, click here.
 

Them's the Breaks

What to Know: Local taxing entities continue to give tax breaks to private companies for the promise of jobs.

“Seven companies are scheduled to receive a combined $400,500 in tax abatements from local governments in 2018 because they have created about 1,000 jobs,” the Tyler Paper reports. “That’s according to annual reports from the Tyler Economic Development Council, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce that uses incentives to recruit new businesses to the area.”

The TPPF Take: Tax abatement deals are destructive public policy.

“If these seven Texas companies are so profitable, surely they don’t need corporate welfare through tax abatements,” says TPPF’s Vance Ginn. “This is redistribution of wealth that arbitrarily picks winners and losers.”
 
For more on the tax breaks, click here.
 

Cowtown Pension Problems

What to Know: The city of Fort Worth saw its bond ratings lowered in light of its rising public employee pensions liabilities.

“S&P Global Ratings recently downgraded Fort Worth’s general obligation debt rating to AA from AA+. The service noted the city’s obligations to current and future government retirees, pointing out that pension contributions are below actually determined levels,” the Texas Monitor reports. “S&P pointed out that the $2.3 billion Fort Worth Employees’ Retirement Fund was less than 43 percent funded as of Sept. 30. It has an unfunded pension liability — meaning money promised to retirees but not currently in its accounts — of $3.1 billion. Moody’s Investor Service downgraded Fort Worth’s general obligation debt to Aa3 in 2017, also citing the growing unfunded pension liabilities.”

The TPPF Take: Cities must get control of their pension liabilities.

“None of this bodes well for taxpayers or retirees, especially those on low- and fixed-incomes, who face the prospect of higher taxes, fewer services, reduced benefits, or some combination of the three,” says TPPF’s James Quintero. “Sadly, all of this is yet another reminder of the inherent instability and unsustainability of the defined benefit system—and the need to convert to a defined contribution system.”
 
For more on pension reform, click here.
 
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