Advocates for Drug Treatment Critical of Davis’ Proposed Budget Cuts
Supporters of Proposition 36, the voter-approved initiative that requires nonviolent drug offenders to receive treatment instead of prison time, are criticizing Gov. Gray Davis' (D) proposed budget because it includes funding cuts for treatment programs, the Sacramento Bee reports. The state currently spends $18 million annually on drug court programs. Davis' revised budget would cut $8.5 million from the programs, $5.7 million for youth treatment services and $7.7 million for adult treatment programs. Bill Zimmerman, executive director of the Santa Monica-based Campaign for New Drug Policies, said that Proposition 36 calls for $120 million for drug treatment programs and that the money should not "replace existing funds." He added, "These budget cuts seem to fly in the face of what California voters want and supported in the November election. ... We intended that $120 million be used in addition to the existing (money). I would say there is some potential that the governor's budget is in violation of the provisions of Prop. 36. We are going to look at these cuts, and if there are violations, we'll see what remedies exist in the courts." Drug treatment advocates also say that Davis' proposed cuts run "counter" to a report from the Legislative Analyst's Office that found that treatment programs are "cost-effective but very underfunded." According to the report, funding for treatment programs would need to "nearly double" to treat all those likely to seek treatment if it were more widely available. That would require an annual increase of $330 million. Davis spokesperson Hilary McLean said the programs are still receiving "significant" funding and that the cuts are "small" in relation to the overall size of the budget (Fletcher, Sacramento Bee, 6/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.