Los Angeles Times Examines Davis’ Plan To Transfer Proposition 36 to Counties
A program offering treatment rather than prison to some nonviolent drug offenders could face deeper funding problems in Southern California if Gov. Gray Davis (D) transfers the program to counties' control, the Los Angeles Times reports (Mehta, Los Angeles Times, 4/7). The program was approved under Proposition 36 in November 2000 (California Healthline, 2/14). The measure guaranteed the program $120 million in annual state funding through 2006, but under Davis' fiscal year 2003-2004 budget plan, the program would be included in $8.2 billion in state mental health, substance abuse, long-term care and youth programs that Davis has proposed to transfer to counties' control. Davis proposes to pay for the programs with a one-percentage-point increase in the state sales tax, higher income tax rates for the state's highest income earners and an additional $1.10-per-pack tax on cigarettes, but county officials say that those revenues could be unreliable, especially in difficult economic times. Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said, "They're shifting all the fastest-growing programs in state government to the cities and counties ... but the funding sources they're sending to local government are the slowest-growing or actually declining," adding, "It's a prescription for disaster." County officials say the program is already under funded. State funds will be $8 million less than actual program costs in Los Angeles County this year, according to county officials who will supplement the shortfall with leftover funds from the past two years. But Riverside County officials say they may have to delay treatment for some drug offenders this year because of a $2 million gap between state funds for the program and actual treatment costs. If counties lose state funding for the program and are unable to pay for it, some local officials predict nonviolent drug offenders could receive probation rather than treatment or jail time, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 4/7).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.