Trying to cut costs at the state level? How about this one? Charge inmates for toilet paper and soap.
Next, maybe state employees can pay for their toilet paper, too? And how about charging people $10 when they have jury duty? While we're at it, let's get rid of those pesky free defendant's attorneys.
Personally, I believe that if our society creates criminals then we need to pay for their attempted rehabilitation. While they may get free books in prison, they do not get a college education. When they leave prison, they should not be in debt for their years of servitude. They'll have a hard enough time finding a job.
If you want to be innovative with the budget, how about the criminals monitor the new legalized video gambling machines? We can pay them 72 cents per day for staring at the computer. While we're at it, let's take Pgh Comet's suggestion and legalize table gambling at the casinos to get them off our backs about video poker. Though I think Las Vegas has proved time and again that gambling addicts can support however many slots machines you give them.
While we're at it, why don't we legalize some drugs that the inmates can package up for us, and we can tax them?
And how did the tobacco lobbyists pull this one off? Only state in the nation with no tax on chewing tobacco and one of the few with no tax on cigars? Heck, my tobacco-naive self was under the impression that cigars were basically cigarettes and that the two were taxed equivalently. Silly me.
Seriously, Mr Rendell, I don't care how you make the money, just as long as you don't introduce the 10% 2009 Emergency Budget-Filling Tax on alcohol that stays on the books for the next hundred years. How's Johnstown doing these days?