LAO 2005-06 Budget Analysis: General Government

Analysis of the 2005-06 Budget Bill

Legislative Analyst's Office
February 2005

Department of the Youth Authority (5460)

The Department of the Youth Authority (CYA) currently operates eight institutions with about 3,600 beds, and four fire and conservation camps with about 300 beds. These institutions house about 150 female and 3,300 male wards, down from a total of over 10,000 in 1996.

Camp Closures Proposed to Continue. The department has recently closed three institutions and one fire camp in response to a declining population and a legislative mandate to do so. Even with the closures, CYA's institutions and camps still have a surplus capacity of about 400 beds. In response, the Governor's budget proposes to close two more fire and conservation camps—Ben Lomond in Santa Cruz and Washington Ridge in Nevada City. The closures would leave two camps still open, with a capacity of around 150 beds, for less violent wards. (Please see our review of the closure proposal in Item 5460 in the "Judiciary and Criminal Justice" chapter.)

Request for Capital Outlay Funding. The budget requests $3.6 million from the General Fund for the following:

Required Report Has Not Been Submitted

We recommend the Legislature not approve a total of $3 million, including funding for a kitchen renovation and funding for statewide budget packages and planning, and minor projects because a required report on the condition of the Youth Authority's facilities has not been submitted and it is needed in order to evaluate capital outlay proposals in the budget. (Delete $2,958,000 from Item 5460-301-0001 [1], [3], and [4].)

Facilities Information and Funding Priorities Lacking. The Supplemental Report of the 2003-04 Budget Act directed the Youth Authority to prepare and submit a report on the condition of its facilities to the Legislature by November 1, 2003. The report was required to contain a survey and assessment of the condition of the Youth Authority's facilities, including identification of needed corrections and improvements, preliminary cost estimates, and a plan for their implementation. This report has not been submitted. As a consequence, the Legislature does not have the information it sought to assist it in making decisions about the department's capital outlay proposals.

In addition, the administration has not released an updated five-year statewide infrastructure plan, including its plan for CYA's facilities. This five-year plan is required by law to be annually updated and to identify the administration's priorities for funding infrastructure improvements for various programs and departments. Instead, the most recent information is from the 2003 plan prepared by the prior administration. Without an updated statewide plan, the Legislature is not able to determine if the proposals put forward in the budget address the state's most critical needs.

An example of why the facilities report and infrastructure plan are important is the budget request for $208,000 to develop preliminary plans and working drawings for a blast chiller (for food storage) at the Northern California Youth Correctional Facility at Stockton. This project was not included for funding in the 2003 statewide infrastructure plan. Absent a new (2005) plan showing the current administration's funding priorities, there is no basis to determine why this project should have a higher priority than those projects that were included in the 2003 infrastructure plan, and how funding this project affects the priority of other projects.

Accordingly, we recommend that pending the receipt of the above report, the Legislature not approve the blast chiller project described above, as well as:

Fire Sprinkler Project Should Proceed for Safety Reasons. We do not include in our recommendation deletion for a fourth project: $646,000 to develop preliminary plans for the installation of fire protection sprinkler systems. We recommend approval of this project because it is needed to resolve fire and life safety hazards at various institutions statewide.

Return to Capital Outlay Table of Contents, 2005-06 Budget Analysis