Councilmembers Gloria and Cole Advocate for up to $100 million for Service
SAN DIEGO, CA – The San Diego City Council this week approved a resolution asking the State of California to increase funding for anti-recidivism programs funded through Proposition 47 savings in the 2016-2017 State Budget. The governor’s budget proposal, released in January, estimated a deposit of $29.3 million to the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund (SNSF). City Councilmembers Todd Gloria and Myrtle Cole brought the item forward, which could make $100 million more available statewide for local programs addressing mental illness and substance abuse, truancy and dropout prevention, and victim services.
“When Proposition 47 was passed by the voters two years ago, the expectation and promise was that California was moving from a strategy that was overcrowding our jails, towards diverting low-level offenders out of prisons and using those savings to better address longstanding societal challenges,” said Councilmember Gloria, Chair of the Budget and Government Efficiency Committee. “San Diego is advocating to maximize funding that will help address issues that are among my constituents’ top priorities, including public safety, homelessness, mental illness, and substance use disorders.”
Passed by 61% of California voters in 2014, Proposition 47 reclassified six low-level offenses as misdemeanors, including drug possession and theft under $950, and mandated that savings from not incarcerating these offenders was to be diverted to programs targeting at-risk populations for recidivism. The law required savings be deposited into the SNSF and early fiscal analysis estimated annual deposits of $100 to $200 million.
“Voters sent a strong message when they passed Proposition 47 back in November 2014. Voters believed that, with the passage of Proposition 47, an annual allotment of over $100 million would be available for local mental health and substance abuse services instead of incarceration,” said Councilmember Myrtle Cole, Chair of the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee. “I thank my Council colleagues for their support in passing this resolution. The City can now petition the Governor of California to allocate more money to the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund instead of the $29.3 million figure he proposed in the first draft of his budget.”
The Council’s action was informed by a report released in February by the State’s Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) which claimed the deposit to the SNSF could be far greater than currently proposed by recalculating savings from housing prisoners in private prisons as well as reduced court costs. Several community organizations spoke in support of today’s action, including representatives from Alliance San Diego and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“We applaud the action taken today by the San Diego City Council to call on Sacramento to reinvest all Proposition 47 savings, not just some savings, into the kinds of services and supports that will keep California communities healthy and safe,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, ACLU of California Director of Criminal Justice and Drug Policy. “Voters supported Proposition 47, not just to reduce unnecessary incarceration for low-level offenses, but to invest that savings into more efficient and cost-effective prevention and treatment programs. The San Diego City Council stood up for voters today. Now it’s up to the State to faithfully implement the will of the voters by returning all Prop 47 savings to California’s neighborhoods.”
“We fully endorse the action taken by the City Council to support the successful implementation of Proposition 47. That success is dependent on funding treatment and prevention services in impacted communities like ours. Governor Brown should make the LAO’s recommended changes to the funding formula, which have the potential to reverse decades of wasteful spending,” said Chris Wilson, Associate Director for Alliance San Diego.
The resolution adopted by the Council today will be sent to the Governor, Speaker of the Assembly, Senate President Pro Tem, members of the Assembly Committee on Budget, and members of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee to be considered as they finalize the 2016-2017 State Budget.