2009-10 Budget Analysis Series: General Government

Military Department

Aviation Firefighting Equipment Not Essential

As discussed earlier, the Governor’s budget includes the Emergency Response Initiative, which is funded by revenues from a property insurance surcharge, and provides funds to several departments to support emergency response activities. The budget includes $2.2 million in expenditures for aviation firefighting equipment to improve the response capabilities of CMD. The expenditures for similar types of equipment would increase to $4.9 million in 2010–11.

Recommend Deleting Proposed Augmentation for Equipment. Given the state’s dire fiscal situation, we believe it is important for the Legislature to only authorize augmentations that have the most critical and immediate need. While this equipment would likely improve the protection of life, property, and state resources, CMD currently owns some firefighting equipment. In addition, the state has access to firefighting equipment owned by the CalFire, as well as resources at the federal and local level. We therefore recommend rejecting the augmentation.

Expansion of Benefits Sought

The Governor’s budget includes two proposals to create new programs that would enhance the benefits provided to members of the California National Guard (CNG)—tuition assistance and mental health services.

Tuition Assistance Program Not Justified. The CNG Education Benefit program would provide CNG members tuition assistance at California’s Community Colleges (CCC), the University of California (UC), and California State University (CSU) at a cost of $1.8 million (General Fund) in 2009–10, growing to $3.7 million annually in subsequent years.

In recent years, the administration has made requests for tuition assistance funding, and the Legislature has rejected these proposals due to a variety of concerns about the administration of the program and its failure to target assistance to those with demonstrated financial need. The proposals and reasons for rejecting the requests are described in our Analysis of the 2008–09 Budget Bill (see page F–108). Given these concerns and the state’s fiscal condition, we continue to recommend the Legislature not approve this augmentation.

Use Proposition 63 Funds for Mental Health Administrative Staff. The budget also proposes $1 million from the General Fund for eight staff to help ensure that mental health needs of members of the CMD and their families are being met. The staff would provide activities such as training and assessments to determine combat stress related needs.

We recommend the Legislature reject the proposal to fund these positions with General Fund dollars and instead direct the administration to explore the use of funds from Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, passed in 2004. It appears that the staff proposed would engage in activities consistent with how Proposition 63 funding has been used in the past and the requirements of the act. Currently, over 14 different state departments use funds from Proposition 63 to fund administrative activities such as providing training and coordination of mental health services. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs funded two staff at a cost of $496,000 in 2007–08 to support the development of a statewide veteran mental health referral network at the county level for all entities that may become access points for veterans and their families seeking mental health assistance. Funding for state administrative costs cannot exceed 5 percent of the total annual funds available from Proposition 63, but there is currently $24 million available to fund additional state administrative activities.

Return to General Government Table of Contents, 2009-10 Budget Analysis Series
Return to Full Table of Contents, 2009-10 Budget Analysis Series