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You really can go broke saving money

The state of Texas has cost itself billions of dollars over the past decade or so by doing things like cutting CHIP and thus losing out on far more federal funds than any savings achieved in the state budget. Harris County is costing itself a bunch of money in deputy overtime because of their current hiring freeze. And the city of Houston is losing revenue in the municipal courts because of a bizarre and unpopular new policy that is keeping police officers out of the courts for traffic cases most of the day. The policy was intended to reduce overtime costs, and you can guess the rest:

While the city has saved a quarter-million dollars on officer overtime in just two months, revenue at municipal court is down $2.3 million in August, September and October 2010 compared to the same three months last year.

Officers say it’s because so many cases are being reset and unresolved that fines are not being paid.

I certainly understand wanting to control overtime costs, but there’s no possible way that this makes sense. In addition to reducing revenues at a time when the city – and HPD – desperately needs them, it greatly inconveniences people who have court dates, and effectively denies them due process. One way or another, the city – and by that I really mean Mayor Parker and HPD Chief McClelland – needs to address this.

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