2009-10 Budget Analysis Series: General Government

Commission on State Mandates

The Commission on State Mandates (commission) is responsible for determining whether local government claims for reimbursement of state–mandated local costs should be paid by the state. If the commission determines that a statute, executive order, or regulation contains a reimbursable mandate, it develops an estimate of the statewide cost of the mandated program and includes this estimate in a semiannual report.

Analysis of New Mandates

Chapter 1123, Statutes of 2002 (AB 3000, Committee on Budget), requires the LAO to review each mandate included in the commission’s semiannual report of newly identified mandates. While the Legislature has not yet received this report, we understand that it will include the three noneducation mandates discussed below. (We will review education mandates separately.) We recommend the Legislature fund these mandates at the amounts proposed in the budget bill.

Handicapped and Disabled II—$12.1 Million. In 1976, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to guarantee handicapped children the right to receive a free and appropriate public education. This includes special education and related services, such as mental health care necessary for a child to benefit from his or her education. Chapter 1747, Statutes of 1984 (AB 3632, W. Brown), created a state mandate by shifting to counties the responsibility for providing mental health services to special education pupils. A decade later, the Legislature (in Chapter 1128, Statutes of 1994 [AB 1892, Polanco], and Chapter 654, Statutes of 1996 [AB 2726, Woods]) expanded county special education duties to include providing psychotherapy, monitoring pupils’ psychiatric medications, and participating in the educational planning process when pupils are placed in residential facilities. In 2005, the commission determined that these additional county activities constitute a reimbursable mandate. The budget proposes $12.1 million to reimburse counties for costs they incurred carrying out these responsibilities between 2001 and 2005. Ongoing funding for this mandate is budgeted separately under the Department of Mental Health.

Binding Arbitration—$210,000. Chapter 906, Statutes 2000 (SB 402, Burton), required local governments to engage in binding arbitration with peace officers and firefighters in the event collective bargaining negotiations reached an impasse. In April 2003, the California Supreme Court declared Chapter 906 unconstitutional because it delegated responsibility over local agency financial affairs to a private body. During the time before the legislation was overturned, one local government (the County of Napa) incurred costs to engage in binding arbitration. The budget includes $210,000 to reimburse the county for these mandated costs.

Firearm Hearing for Discharged Inpatients—$152,000. Chapter 9, Statutes of 1989 (AB 497, Connelly), prohibits individuals who have been placed in a county mental health facility from owning or possessing a firearm for five years after their release. Chapter 578, Statutes of 1999 (AB 1587, Scott), established a process whereby affected individuals may appeal this firearm prohibition through a civil hearing in Superior Court. The commission determined that some work by local district attorneys to participate in these civil hearings constitutes a state–reimbursable mandate. To simplify the process for reimbursing these minor administrative costs, the commission adopted a “reasonable reimbursement methodology” pursuant to Chapter 890, Statutes of 2004 (AB 2856, Laird). In 2007–08, the reimbursement amount is $81 per appeal. The budget includes $154,000 to reimburse local governments for their costs over the past decade.

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