Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2001-02 Budget Bill

Department of Justice (0820)

Under the direction of the Attorney General, the Department of Justice (DOJ) enforces state laws, provides legal services to state and local agencies, and provides support services to local law enforcement agencies.

Budget Proposal

The budget proposes total expenditures of $597 million for support of the DOJ in the budget year. This amount is $8.6 million, or about 1.5 percent, more than estimated current-year expenditures. The requested amount includes $324 million from the General Fund (an increase of $20.7 million, or 6.8 percent), $120 million from special funds, $25.8 million from federal funds, and $127 million from reimbursements. Major proposed funding increases are discussed below.

Division of Law Enforcement. The Governor's budget proposes $159 million ($104 million General Fund, and $55 million federal and special funds) for support of programs in the Division of Law Enforcement. The most significant change concerns the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement. The budget assumes the state will take over funding responsibility for the California Methamphetamine Strategy (CALMS) and proposes to shift over a hundred positions from federal funds to the General Fund (at a cost of $10.4 million). In addition, the Bureau of Investigation proposes to expand its Sexual Predator Apprehension Team program to place teams in its Orange County and San Diego regional offices (at a cost of $2.8 million).

Division of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS). The budget proposes expenditures of $151 million ($61 million General Fund and $90 million federal and special funds) for programs in the CJIS. This amount includes the continuation of several federally funded initiatives which support activities such as maintaining a databank of criminal history information and a national sex offender registry. The budget also requests $9.1 million from the General Fund to address workload growth in criminal fingerprints.

Firearms Division. The department recently consolidated its firearms programs into a new Firearms Division. The budget proposes $7.2 million ($243,000 General Fund and $7 million special funds) to fulfill its firearms related responsibilities. These include registering assault weapons, certifying safety devices, enforcing gun show promoter requirements, and ensuring that mental health facilities report persons ineligible to purchase firearms. The budget proposes an increase of $327,000 from the Dealers' Record of Sale Special Account to increase the frequency of firearms dealer compliance inspections.

Legal Divisions. The budget proposes $98 million ($24 million General Fund, $10 million special funds, and $64 million reimbursements) for the Civil Law Division. Major changes proposed for the budget year include: (1) a one-time increase of $4.5 million for continued consultant fees related to the state's involvement in the Stringfellow toxic dump site and (2) an increase of $600,000 from the False Claims Act Fund to investigate and prosecute cases where an entity has acted against the public interest.

The budget requests $93 million ($79 million General Fund, $13 million federal funds, and $1 million reimbursements) for the Criminal Law Division which includes: (1) an increase of $1.3 million ($461,000 General Fund and $1.4 million federal funds) to investigate and prosecute elder abuse and neglect in Medi-Cal funded facilities; (2) $2.4 million to address increased workload in habeas corpus matters; and (3) $447,000 for post-conviction testing of DNA samples.

For the Public Rights Division, the budget proposes $47 million ($31 million General Fund, $7 million special funds, and $9 million reimbursements). The amount includes: (1) an increase in the current year of $2.4 million and $4 million in the budget year to investigate the current electricity and natural gas emergency, and (2) $1.3 million ($275,000 in reimbursements) to provide litigation representation and legal counsel to client agencies that enforce and administer environmental and natural resources laws and programs.

CALMS Funding Shifting to General Fund; DOJ Should Continue To Seek Federal Funds

We withhold recommendation on the proposal to shift funding for the California Methamphetamine Strategy to the General Fund pending receipt of further information about the availability of continued federal funding for this program.

Background. The CALMS, operated by the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, is a statewide effort to combat methamphetamine production, trafficking, and use. From federal fiscal year (FFY) 1997 to FFY 1999, DOJ has received annual grants of $18.2 million from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to implement and support CALMS. This money was to fund sworn personnel and support personnel in five areas: law enforcement, intelligence, forensics, safety and training, and community outreach. The 1999 grant funds were extended and will expire September 30, 2001. The FFY 2001 budget includes $48.5 million for state and local law enforcement programs to combat methamphetamine. Although these funds were not specifically appropriated for CALMS, the Senate and House conference report on the budget instructs the COPS office to review requests for funds from CALMS and provide grants if warranted.

Budget Proposal. The Governor's budget proposes to shift $10.4 million and 106.4 personnel-years (PYs) for CALMS from federal funds which are expiring to the General Fund. Because $3.5 million in carryover federal funds are available for the budget year, the General Fund total would increase to $14 million in 2002-03 and beyond. The General Fund amount is smaller than the federal grant amounts, but more accurately reflects the actual expenditure levels for the program which have ranged from $12 million to $14 million each fiscal year. This will necessitate an adjustment in its original CALMS plan to the federal government to bring originally proposed activity levels in line with more recent actual levels. To do this, DOJ proposes to reduce the original planned levels of funding for local agency training, overtime, and crime prevention activities.

The DOJ Should Pursue Continued Federal Funding. Given the extent of the methamphetamine problem in California, and the significant investment already made by DOJ in the CALMS program, it is appropriate to redirect General Fund monies to support these activities. However, based on the provisions of FFY 2001 Appropriations Bill, it appears likely that DOJ will receive some federal funding for CALMS through the COPS office. Given the high likelihood that we will receive some federal funding for CALMS, we withhold recommendation on the proposed fund shift until DOJ provides updated information on its prospects for continued federal grants.

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