BOSTON -- Earlier this week, Attorney General Martha Coakley, the state's top law enforcement officer, said "we lost that war" in reference to imprisoning criminals. The bizarre statement for the top cop was followed by a rambling explanation that she can pay for her costly education proposals without tax hikes. She went on to say she would finance the plans by savings generated from letting criminals out of jail and offering them job training and GED programs.
Coakley: "We spend a lot of money putting people in jail by the way. Let’s just start with the idea that we lost that war in many respects." (1:20 mark)
"It is clear from Coakley's illegal campaign cash scandal she doesn't have a firm grasp on the law, but it is just ludicrous for the state's top cop to give up on her job; putting criminals behind bars," said Kirsten Hughes, MassGOP Chairman. "Her rambling claim that releasing law breakers and giving them job training will finance her education plans is possibly the only thing more bizarre than an Attorney General giving up on putting people in jail in the first place."
Q: How would you treat the tax end? How are you going to pay for this stuff?
Coakley: This is how I think about this. I think as the economy turns around we will see more revenues. We also need to go back and say what do we want to invest in? Where do we put our dollars? How do we eliminate waste fraud and abuse? Which we have been doing at the AG’s office. And how do me make sure we get our priorities straight in terms of where those investments go. And I think if we do that, and we start to look at ways in which we can save monies. I’m just thinking about the way we can do better about the education issue for instance which is work from the bottom up. We spend a lot of money putting people in jail by the way. Let’s just start with the idea that we lost that war in many respects. We could take some of the money we invest in houses of correction and prisons and do a better job on intervention and prevention as well as providing not just a chance to get out of jail, but a chance to get a GED, get a job training. Let’s use our voc. tech schools and our community and our not-for-profit schools in a way that keeps more kids in school here so off the streets, out of jail and let’s look at some of those savings. That’s just one example.
One of the other things that I think we should do is look at how are our agencies structured? What do we pay for? Where do our dollars go? And are they going where they should?
My feeling is this. If there are things we want to do in this commonwealth we have to invest in them. We will find ways to pay for them. My sense is and raising taxes is not the first place I go. I don’t believe we are going to have to do that. If we ever did, it would certainly be look at where the burden can be borne not on people who can bear it the least. But I think there is a lot we can do well before we have to look at that.