LAO 2006-07 Budget Analysis: Judiciary & Criminal Justice

Analysis of the 2006-07 Budget Bill

Legislative Analyst's Office
February 2006


General Fund expenditures for judicial and criminal justice programs are proposed to increase by 7 percent in the budget year. This increase reflects (1) inflation adjustments for various departments, including the Judicial Branch, (2)projected growth in the adult prison population, (3) costs for implementation of various court settlement agreements in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and (4) proposed new and expanded programs. Although the Governor has proposed over $3 billion in bond spending for construction and renovation of courts and correctional facilities, the budget does not reflect any expenditure from these funds.

Expenditure Proposal and Trends

Budget Year. The budget proposes General Fund expenditures of $10.5 billion for judicial and criminal justice programs, which is about 11 percent of all General Fund spending. This amount represents an increase of $687 million, or 7 percent, above estimated current-year spending. Most of the increase in this area is proposed for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Other significant increases are proposed for the Judicial Branch and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Historical Trend. Figure 1 shows expenditures from all state funds for judicial and criminal justice programs since 1999-00. These expenditures have been reduced to reflect federal funds the state has or is expected to receive to offset the costs of incarceration of undocumented felons. The figure shows that General Fund expenditures for judicial and criminal justice programs are projected to increase by $4.1 billion between 1999-00 and 2006-07, an average annual increase of 7.4 percent. General Fund expenditures increased during this period mostly due to (1) the state’s assumption of primary responsibility for funding trial court operations enacted in 1997 and (2) increased labor costs to operate the state corrections system, as well as court-ordered expansions of inmate and ward programs.

Spending by Major Program

Figure 2 shows expenditures from all sources for the major judicial and criminal justice programs in 2004-05, 2005-06, and as proposed for 2006-07. As the figure shows, CDCR accounts for the largest share of total spending in the criminal justice area, followed by the Judicial Branch. Spending is proposed to increase in each of the three major programs.

While DOJ would experience the largest percentage increase from all sources relative to its estimated current-year spending, the largest percentage increase from the General Fund is for the Judicial Branch which includes the Trial Court Funding program and the judiciary (the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, and Judicial Council). By comparison, proposed new spending from all funds for CDCR appears relatively modest.


Figure 2

Judicial and Criminal Justice Budget Summary

2004‑05 Through 2006‑07
(Dollars in Millions)



Estimated 2005‑06

Proposed 2006‑07

Change From



Department of Corrections and




General Funda






Special funds






Reimbursements and federal funds












Federal Offset for
Undocumented Felons






Judicial Branchb






General Fund






Special funds and reimbursements






County contribution










Department of Justice






General Fund






Special funds and reimbursements






Federal funds













a    Includes Proposition 98, and excludes capital outlay and debt service.

b    Excludes Commission on Judicial Performance and Judges’ Retirement System contributions.



Major Budget Changes

Figure 3 presents the major budget changes for judicial and criminal justice programs. These and other changes are described below.


Figure 3

Judicial and Criminal Justice
Proposed Major Changes for 2006‑07
All Funds





Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation


$8.1 billion





$364 million







+      $68 million for projected changes in the inmate and ward populations



+      $64 million to fully fund current-year salary increases



+      $60 million for price increases



+      $50 million for Farrell v. Hickman remedial plans



+      $68 million for inmate medical services



+      $21 million for inmate dental services






Judicial Branch


$3.4 billion





$140 million







+      $105 million growth and inflation adjustment for trial courts



+      $18 million growth and inflation adjustment for judiciary and judicial officer salaries



+      $58 million to restore one-time reduction



+      $19 million to increase security at some trial courts



+      $16 million for trial court information technology enhancements



+      $12 million for trial court employee salary increases



+      $5.5 million to phase-in 150 new judgeships over three years






Department of Justice


$745 million





$52 million







+      $6.5 million for gang suppression and enforcement activities



+      $6 million for narcotics enforcement activities



+      $3 million to tribal gaming compliance and enforcement



+      $3 million to replace radio communications equipment



+      $2 million to address workload growth in forensic services


Population, Employee Compensation, and Inflation. The budget funds projected changes in the inmate and ward populations, as well as in the parole populations ($68 million). It provides for the full-year cost of compensation adjustments that took effect in the current year ($64 million). Finally, it provides an inflation adjustment for operating expenses and equipment ($60 million), as well as an adjustment for cost and utilization of pharmaceuticals and contract medical care provided by CDCR ($68 million).

Corrections Court Settlement Agreements. The budget proposes new spending for the continued rollout of previous court settlements, such as Valdivia relating to the parole revocation process ($12 million), Plata relating to inmate medical care ($21 million), Coleman relating to mental health care ($14 million), and Farrell relating to various conditions of confinement within youth correctional facilities ($50 million). The budget proposes $21 million for a new settlement agreement-in Perez v Hickman-relating to inmate dental care.

Inmate and Parolee Programs. In addition to providing for the full-year cost of previously approved program expansions, the budget proposes to further increase funding for “recidivism reduction strategies.” The Governor’s budget adds approximately $23 million for new and expanded programs in 2006-07, and proposes to further expand these programs in subsequent years increasing total spending for the recidivism reduction initiative to $95 million in 2008-09. The administration, however, provides no estimate of the potential fiscal and programmatic effects of these investments. We examine this proposal and offer recommendations for legislative consideration in the “Adult Corrections” section of this chapter.

Judicial Branch Spending. The budget proposes several augmentations for the Judicial Branch. These consist of $105 million for inflation and growth adjustments for trial courts based on the year-to-year change in the State Appropriations Limit (SAL), $58 million to restore a one-time reduction, $19 million for court security, $16 million for court information technology, and $12 million for employee compensation. In addition, the budget includes $5.5 million from the General Fund to begin to phase-in 150 new judge positions over the next three fiscal years.

Judicial Branch Policy Changes Proposed in Budget. The budget reflects various policy changes relating to the Judicial Branch. First, it proposes to expand the application of the SAL inflation and growth funding adjustment to include trial court judge salaries, as well as all spending for the judiciary, thereby placing the entire Judicial Branch budget under this automatic funding approach. Second, the budget proposes to continuously appropriate the Trial Court Trust Fund, as well as a newly established Judiciary Operations Fund.

2006 Bond Proposal for Corrections and Courts. As part of its Strategic Growth Plan, the administration proposes-for voter approval in 2006-over $3 billion in bond spending for construction and renovation of courts and correctional facilities. This consists of $2 billion for jail construction, $800 million for court facilities, $200 million for a new DNA laboratory, and approximately $200 million for state correctional facilities. However, the budget does not reflect any expenditure from these bond funds.

Return to Judicial and Criminal Justice Table of Contents, 2006-07 Budget Analysis