This is my ninth essay for 2006, and the sixth one about the state budget that just passed and was signed by the Governor. This essay will discuss the 06-07 prison budget and the 06-07 transportation budget.
The budget contains $8.7 billion from General Fund monies for support of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, an increase of $945 million or 12% from last year. Most of the new spending is contained in the adult corrections budget. The new funds were needed in order to comply with court settlements relating to the delivery of medical, mental and dental health care services to inmates ($400 million), address increased inmate and parole caseloads ($303 million) and implement some new programs aimed at reducing recidivism among adult offenders ($53 million). Programs for reducing recidivism include inmate education, parole programs, community partnerships, rehabilitative programs and treatment.
Although the Governor did not institute most of the programs suggested to reduce recidivism, the legislature was able to convince him to leave this $53 million in the budget. He also added $5 million for Global Positioning System devices for tracking sex offenders.
Pursuant to another lawsuit lost by the state, the budget provides $60 million to further implement remedial plans to increase staff-to-ward ratios in the youth correctional facilities and to enhance the delivery of medical and mental health care services. The budget also establishes $10 million for the Community Re-Entry Challenge Grant Program, which increases community-based services for youth coming out of incarceration in an attempt to reduce recidivism. Again, the Governor has not put a great deal of money into reducing recidivism.
Aid to Local Law Enforcement
The budget gives the Department of Justice $6.5 million to create four new Gang Suppression Enforcement Teams. Local law enforcement gets $565 million (an increase of about 35% over last year) for crime reduction programs, including a grant program aimed at reducing recidivism among mentally ill offenders.
There was a substantial increase in the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans budget) due primarily to a decision to repay a substantial amount of Prop 42 loans, explained more fully below. However, looking at real dollars aimed at projects, the funding is fairly flat, remaining at about $5.2 billion for transportation capital outlay, $1.5 billion for capital outlay support, $2.2 billion for local assistance and about $1.1 billion for highway operations and maintenance. The budget also provides about $1.5 billion for support of Caltrans’ mass transit and rail program.
The voters approved Proposition 42 in an effort to make sure that state gasoline tax revenues actually went for transportation purposes. However, over the last few years, the state has “borrowed” gas taxes to fill other gaps in the budget. The 06-07 budget fully transfers the gas tax revenue into the Transportation Improvement Fund and fills up most of the “buckets” created by the Proposition, as follows: $678 million for traffic congestion relief, $594 for state and local transportation projects, and $148 million for mass transit.
Increases beyond the “buckets”
Because gasoline prices have been sky-high, there has been a concomitant increase in gas tax revenues, making it possible to pay back (partially) monies that should have gone to transportation from prop 42 in past years ($200 million), as well as putting money into the Bay Bridge retrofit, farm worker transportation grants, high-speed rail development, transit assistance and mass transit development (all totaling about $460 million).
Paying back past years’ borrowing from Prop 42
In addition to the $200 million mentioned above from the spillover revenues from gasoline taxes, the budget pays back 1.4 billion for funds not turned over from prop 42 in 03-4 and 04-5. These funds will go, as is the case with this year’s funds, for traffic congestion relief, local and state projects, local roads and streets and mass transit. Overall, mass transit usually gets 8-9% of total transportation funds.
CHP & DMV
The California Highway Patrol receives about $1.6 billion in this year’s budget, an increase of about $120 million. This increase is needed to begin funding a multiyear project upgrading radio communications systems, and to hire additional patrol officers and 911 call center staff.
The Department of Motor Vehicles receives $848 million, about a $77 million increase. The increase will go to begin work on projects to improve the department’s computing infrastructure related to drivers’ licensing and vehicle registration programs.