by Max Brantley
John Brummett today pounds the Republican alternative for paying for a trauma system -- using court costs.
The GOP reasoning is nonsensical, of course, as Brummett amply points out. But, as excellent reporting today by Seth Blomeley in the Democrat-Gazette also makes clear, it's structurally a mess, too.
As I've written before: the estimates of the amount produced by court costs is likely seriously overstated because many court costs don't get paid. The GOP plan also requires the use of other general revenues to meet the required amount for a trauma system alone, to the detriment of the overall state budget. Further, they make no provision at all for other needed health expenditures that the tobacco tax would cover.
The biggest problem with the court cost bill -- and it's so large that it almost makes talking about the bill a waste of time -- is that it would put the trauma-designated costs ahead of others with existing claims on court costs, particularly cities and counties but also including other government interests. That is, other current beneficiaries of court costs would likely give up sorely needed money. The Republicans rob Peters all over the place to pay Paul a whole lot less than he really needs. This bill is DOA. Not even an advanced trauma system can save it.
Still, I'd also encourage some examination of nutty Rep. Ed Garner's suggestion that traffic violators and crime are the cause of trauma cases. No court costs will arise from that tree limb that fell on somebody's head. Garner's not much of an accountant, of course, as his past problems paying state taxes show. It's a touch amusing to have him leading the charge for fiscal responsibility.