Sign up here to
receive our e-alerts

January 11, 2007
E-mail this page to a friend

Governor Proposes Slashing Funding -- Again

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal, released January 10, recommends a deep funding cut for California’s landmark, voter-approved treatment-instead-of-jail program, Proposition 36. Program supporters worry that the governor’s budget, if accepted by the Legislature, would undermine the success of the program and its 36,000 participants each year.
In just the first five years of the program, Prop. 36 helped over 140,000 Californians enter drug treatment and has already saved taxpayers over $1 billion.

If the governor’s budget is approved, this would be the second year in a row that Prop. 36 drug treatment programs would have less money to operate than in the previous year. Last year, the Legislature approved $145 million in total for Prop. 36-related programs, but the governor now proposes only $120 million, to be divided between two separate Prop. 36 funds.

Of the $120 million proposed by the governor, $60 million would be channeled through a one-year-old fund called the Substance Abuse Offender Treatment Program (OTP), which requires county funding matches before state money is distributed.

According to a recent survey by the Coalition of Alcohol and Drug Associations, Prop. 36 needs at least $209.3 million to “adequately address the treatment needs.” The Governor’s proposed funding for Prop. 36 falls almost $90 million short of that target, which would allow counties to better meet the range of needs in treatment, support services and criminal justice supervision for the over 36,000 clients enrolling in Prop. 36 programs each year.

About the Prop. 36 Budget Figures

For five years (FY 2001-02 through FY 2005-06), Prop. 36 was guaranteed funding of $120 million per year from the state general fund. Counties actually spent $143 million to implement Prop. 36 in FY 2005-06, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, which was possible because some counties had carried forward money from earlier years with fewer clients.

Last year was the first in which legislators set the Prop. 36 program’s budget. The legislature approved $120 million for the main Prop. 36 fund, and $25 million in supplementary funds under the auspices of the OTP program. Due to delays in distributing that money, only $132 million is expected to be available to counties in fiscal year 2006-07, a reduction of $11 million from the previous year.

A simple adjustment for inflation, using statistical methods employed by the Department of Finance, would call for a Prop. 36 budget of at least $152.4 million to match the dollar value of the program’s first-year funding. By this measure, the governor’s newest proposal is at least $32.4 million short of the amount first allocated for Prop. 36.

Prop. 36 Generates Savings

Analyses conducted by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles show that for every $1 invested in Prop. 36, the state saves $2.50. For program completers, every $1 invested leads to $4 in savings. In the program’s first five years, taxpayer savings reached $1.3 billion, according to figures from the Justice Policy Institute. A recent UCLA analysis on Prop. 36 cost savings showed that the state enjoys 93% of the savings from Prop. 36, with counties receiving the remaining 7%.

Prop. 36 Background

Prop. 36 was approved by 61 percent of voters in November 2000. A June 2004 poll by the Field Institute showed support for the law at 73 percent. Nearly 12,000 people have successfully completed substance treatment during each year of Prop. 36’s existence, putting the program on track to graduate 72,000 Californians in its first six years.


Common Sense for Drug Policy
California Society of Addiction Medicine
California State Association of Counties

Read commentary from Oliver H., a Prop 36 graduate.

Get the Facts
Over a dozen Proposition 36 fact sheets are available for download. Topics include: the Effectiveness of Drug Treatment, Drug Courts/Deferred Entry, and the California Correctional System.
breakdowns of the 2000 initiative votes
For background on the Prop. 36 campaign and other votes nationwide for drug policy reform, see:

Contact Lists
County Lead Agencies
and Contacts
Parole Region Contact
Probation Contacts



Drug Policy Alliance · (916) 444-3751 · [email protected]