|Budget Issue:||Funding for public safety local assistance programs.|
|Finding or Recommendation:||Consider redirecting half the revenue from the temporary 0.15 percent increase in the vehicle license fee, which supports various public safety grant programs, to the General Fund. Remaining funds would support a consolidated juvenile justice program at a reduced level.|
In adopting the 2009-10 budget package, the Legislature temporarily increased the vehicle license fee (VLF) from 0.65 percent to 1.15 percent and dedicated about one-third of the revenues (0.15 percent, or $442 million in 2010-11) to various public safety local assistance programs. These monies in effect replaced General Fund spending for the Juvenile Probation and Camps Funding Program, the Citizens’ Option for Public Safety program, the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) program, local detention facility subventions (booking fees), and various other public safety programs. The temporary VLF rate increase ends on June 30, 2011.
Given the state's current General Fund shortfall, we recommend the Legislature consider redirecting half the revenue from the 0.15 percent VLF increase ($221 million) to the General Fund. As we discussed in our Analysis of the 2008-09 Budget Bill, most of the public safety programs currently funded with VLF revenues have generally not demonstrated results and do not serve a defined statewide purpose. Under our budget option, the Legislature could instead redirect half these revenues to support other programs in the state budget that it deems to be of a higher priority. The other half of the VLF revenues could be used to support a consolidated juvenile justice program similar to the existing JJCPA, which—unlike the many of the other public safety local assistance programs—has demonstrated results indicating its effectiveness.