Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2002-03 Budget Bill

Payment to Counties for Costs of Homicide Trials (8180)

The state provides reimbursement to counties for the costs of conducting homicide trials. Under current law, a county may apply to the State Controller for reimbursement of certain costs of homicide trials and hearings. For most counties, the maximum amount that the county may be reimbursed is based on the county population, the assessed value of property within the county, and the number of homicide trials conducted during the fiscal year. Chapter 127, Statutes of 2000 (AB 2866, Migden), provides for 100 percent reimbursement of homicide trial costs in certain counties. Shasta, San Luis Obispo, and Placer Counties are currently being reimbursed under this statute. Reimbursement for local homicide trials is paid out of the state General Fund. The Governor's budget proposes $7.5 million for this purpose in 2002-03.

Homicide Trial Reimbursement Overbudgeted

We recommend a reduction of $3 million in the amount budgeted to reimburse counties for the costs of homicide trials because there is no justification for the level of funding proposed for the budget year. (Reduce Item 8180-101-0001 by $3 million).

As indicated above, the budget provides $7.5 million from the General Fund to reimburse counties for costs related to homicide trials and hearings. However, based on historical expenditure experience we believe this amount is overbudgeted. The budget has recently overestimated the amount needed to reimburse counties. In the past three years (1998-99 through 2000-01), actual reimbursements have declined from 55 percent to 16 percent of the amount appropriated. For 2001-02, the budget act provided $7.5 million. To date, counties have applied for reimbursements totaling $3.9 million including advance payments for trials that have yet to take place. The Department of Finance has not provided a justification for maintaining the higher level included in the proposed budget for 2002-03. Given historical expenditures, we recommend a reduction of $3 million for the budget year.

Return to Judiciary and Criminal Justice Table of Contents, 2002-03 Budget Analysis