Margaret Dooley at (858) 336-3685 or Dave Fratello at (310) 394-2952
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to force counties to pay a share of Prop. 36 drug treatment costs, or they will receive no money from the state for the voter-mandated, treatment-instead-of-incarceration program. The sponsors of the 2000 ballot measure today said the governor’s proposal poses several legal problems, is sure to be resisted by county governments, and threatens to decriminalize drugs in counties that do not contribute to Prop. 36.
Margaret Dooley, Prop. 36 statewide coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, said, “The governor has already proposed slashing Prop. 36 treatment funds this year, but requiring counties to match funds guarantees that treatment will be less available than it is today–and could even vanish in some counties. The governor’s plan is a brazen slap in the face to the voters, who overwhelmingly enacted Prop. 36 and who support it to this day. This is yet another challenge to the voters’ intent by a governor who is already in litigation over changes to Prop. 36 that he demanded last year.”
In budget trailer bill language released this morning, the administration proposes changes to a one-year-old fund known as the Offender Treatment Program (OTP), a supplemental fund created last June by the Legislature, that would allow the OTP fund to become the principal funding channel for all Prop. 36-related program funds. The governor has already vowed to make OTP the sole source of Prop. 36 funds, while ending all funding of the Prop. 36 trust fund set up by the initiative, in his May budget revisions. The OTP fund now requires counties to put in $1 for every $9 received from the state, a rule the governor does not propose to change.
Dave Fratello, co-author of Prop. 36, said, “The governor’s proposals echo the failed effort by Gov. Gray Davis to make Prop. 36 a county responsibility through ‘realignment.’ There is no avoiding the fact that Prop. 36 is a state program, and a voter-mandated one at that. Counties would be on solid legal ground to challenge this proposal, as one might expect they will.”
Fratello said, “The county matching requirement might sound reasonable, but we know that there are counties that cannot or will not contribute. What happens then? Prop. 36 says people have a right to treatment, or they cannot be incarcerated. So what the governor is proposing is really a gradual, county-by-county decriminalization of drug use in California.”
Last year, the Legislature approved $145 million in total for Prop. 36-related programs, $120 million through the initiative’s trust fund and $25 million in challenge grants through the new OTP program. The governor proposes $120 million in total funding for FY 2007-08, a 17% cut from last year, and at least $90 million less than was projected to be necessary in an analysis last year by treatment and probation associations.
Though the governor’s January proposal divides the money 50/50 between the two Prop. 36-related funds, the budget clearly states that all $120 million will go through OTP if the state has not, by May, emerged victorious in litigation related to changes to Prop. 36 demanded by the governor last year. Resolution of the case by then is considered extremely unlikely.
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.
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%.
For more information on Prop. 36, visit www.prop36.org.