January 16, 2003
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Govs Budget Plan Guts
Contact: Roberta Green, Campaign
for New Drug Policies
- Voter-Approved Drug Treatment
Fund, $120 Million/yr., Vanishes
- State Oversight of Local Programs
- Long-Term University Studies Would
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 16 Sponsors
of voter-approved Proposition 36, which requires drug
treatment instead of jail time for nonviolent drug
offenders, say that Gov. Gray Davis budget proposal
would gut key provisions of the law. However, they
say the initiative simply cannot be amended in the
fashion Davis has proposed, and they urged him to
drop Prop. 36 programs from the proposed realignment
of other state programs to local governments.
Bill Zimmerman, who managed the campaign
for Prop. 36 and currently serves on the broad-based
Statewide Advisory Group overseeing implementation,
said, We assume it was an honest mistake by
the governors office to include Prop. 36 in
the proposed realignment. But it would be misguided,
irresponsible and clearly illegal for this part of
the plan to proceed.
If the governor and the legislature
do not pull Prop. 36 out of any proposed realignment,
Zimmerman said, we will organize a coalition
to fight it and we will sue to block implementation
of any bill that tampers with our new law.
The text of Prop. 36 specifies that
it can only be amended by a 2/3 vote to further
the Act and that any changes shall be
consistent with its purposes. Zimmerman said
the realignment proposal for Prop. 36
fails both tests.
First of all, the governors
plan would end the voter-approved, guaranteed treatment
funding contained in Prop. 36, Zimmerman said.
It would also eliminate state oversight, budgetary
auditing and evaluation of local programs.
Zimmerman continued, With no
fixed budget and no one minding the store, treatment
quality would soon suffer. We would see fewer people
getting quality treatment, and more drug offenders
going to prison, at far greater cost to the state.
It would be like turning back
the clock, Zimmerman said. Prop. 36 demanded
treatment instead of incarceration. But if you cut
back on treatment, you just get more incarceration,
and higher costs to the taxpayers.
Supported by 61% of voters in November
2000, Prop. 36 created a state Substance Abuse Treatment
Trust Fund, which is slated to receive $120 million
per year through the 2005-2006 fiscal year. Gov. Davis
new budget plan does not reference the trust fund
and neglects this required state appropriation, which
legally must be in addition to pre-existing treatment
funds. Prop. 36 funds would instead be drawn from
among a mass of competing programs at the local level.
In addition, the state Department
of Alcohol and Drug Programs would cease to have funding
or responsibility to monitor local-level implementation
of Prop. 36. The laws sponsors see state oversight
as critical to guaranteeing the adequacy of treatment
services and good-faith implementation of the voter
Finally, long-term studies of Prop.
36, also funded through a share of the state trust
fund, would apparently be terminated if Gov. Davis
plan goes through. Currently, the University of California
at Los Angeles has a state contract to evaluate Prop.
36 implementation. Those studies, required by the
text of Prop. 36,
are intended to guide legislators in future funding
decisions after the first five-and-a-half years
worth of appropriations expire.
Zimmerman said, Neither the
voters nor legislators will have the information they
need if we shut down the studies of Prop. 36.
LAW WORKING AS INTENDED
Though Prop. 36 has only been effective
since July 1, 2001, studies have shown that the program
is working. Counties have greatly expanded the availability
of treatment programs to accommodate the influx of
new clients, and state officials reported a near doubling
in the number of state-licensed treatment programs.
And far fewer people are entering prison each year
for drug possession.
Supporters argue that there is a
rationale for exempting Prop. 36 money and oversight
from the governors broader realignment
Zimmerman said, Even though
local government plays a big role in making Prop.
36 work, this law is unique in that it saves the state
money directly. When we place a drug offender in treatment,
that often means we save a prison bed, which can cost
over $25,000 per year. The state has an interest in
making sure that people
are getting quality treatment so they dont come
to prison unnecessarily. That means the state cannot
shirk its role in implementing Prop. 36.