2009-10 Budget Analysis Series: Judicial and Criminal Justice

Funding for Correctional and Court Facilities

Use Existing Available Funding to Support CDCR Projects

Infrastructure Prospects ($10.9 Million). The Governor’s budget proposes a total of $10.9 million in additional General Fund support to continue three previously approved infrastructure projects. These projects involve water and wastewater improvements at Mule Creek State Prison ($5 million), the Sierra Conservation Center ($4.9 million), and at the California Rehabilitation Center ($959,000).

Our analysis indicates that these three projects could be supported with funds already appropriated from the General Fund in Chapter 7, Statutes of 2007 (AB 900, Solorio). Specifically, AB 900 appropriated $300 million from the General Fund to address sewage, water, electrical, and other types of infrastructure problems at existing prisons to enable them to handle additional prison capacity. As of October 2008, CDCR has spent only $46.1 million of that $300 million, thus leaving a balance of $253.9 million available to support additional infrastructure projects. Accordingly, we recommend that the Legislature delete the proposed $10.9 million General Fund appropriation for the above projects and instead fund these projects from the AB 900 General Fund appropriation.

Reentry Site Evaluations ($5 Million). Assembly Bill 900 also provided $2.6 billion in lease–revenue bond authority for the construction of “secure reentry facilities.” (These are to be secure facilities of up to 500 beds each for inmates within one year of being released or re–released from custody prior to parole into a community.) A number of counties have identified potential sites for locating reentry facilities. The Governor’s 2009–10 budget plan provides $5 million from the General Fund to CDCR to evaluate whether the identified sites are appropriate for construction and to acquire real estate purchase options for the sites.

Similar to our proposal above, we recommend that the Legislature fund these efforts with the AB 900 General Fund appropriation and thereby achieve $5 million in General Fund savings.

Transfer Funds From SCFCF to Achieve General Fund Savings

The SCFCF, which consists of revenue from various court fees and fines, is the primary funding source for the renovation and replacement of court facilities. For example, the fund was identified as the source of funding for the acquisition, preliminary plans, and working drawings for eight courthouse projects that have been approved by the Legislature. The construction of these projects will be financed with lease–revenue bonds, with the debt incurred on these bonds paid for from the SCFCF.

As of July 2008, the SCFCF contained a balance of about $327 million. Based on our analysis of the amount of funds needed to pay the construction debt on the above projects and to support other activities, we believe that the Legislature could use a portion of the $327 million fund balance to achieve General Fund savings on a one–time basis without delaying planned projects. Specifically, we recommend that the Legislature transfer $40 million from SCFCF to the General Fund. Our analysis indicates that a fund shift of this magnitude would not affect any legislatively approved courthouse projects.

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