By Shaun Rundle, Government Affairs and Public Safety Specialist
Last week Governor Jerry Brown released the annual May revision of the State Budget, with many law enforcement stakeholders specifically wary of the Traffic Amnesty Program first proposed by the Governor in January. The proposal was an 18-month program that would provide individuals with court-owed debt from traffic infractions and misdemeanors to have a 50% reduction that overall debt if paid in full. Revenues from that program would be directed to state and local funds, except for a portion directed into the State Penalty Fund (SPF), which funds the Peace Officers’ Training Fund (POTF, 82%) and the Corrections Training Fund (CTF, 18%).
Of course, the POTF primarily funds POST trainings, and CPOA works closely with POST to develop trainings that many CPOA members attend throughout each fiscal year. Although the May revision keeps the expectation that the amnesty program will generate $150 million in revenue (with $9.9M expected to go to POTF), CPOA members know that less infractions are being written these days, and the amnesty program could potentially provide for some serious challenges for POST viability.
In the wake of national events of late, local law enforcement agencies are also currently expected to better train officers to improve community policing. Yet with so many individuals with court debt not able to pay any of their fines and court fees, less money is expected to eventually reach the POTF, which POST would need to provide effective trainings and administration. In addition, the May revision also updates the amnesty program by allowing individuals with suspended driver licenses due to Failure to Appear or Failure to Pay offenses to have their licenses reinstated. Citizens can agree to make a one-time payment, or sign up for a payment plan, which could eventually lead to a wage garnishment if payments are not made.
On top of that, POST’s administrative budget remains proposed to be cut by over $5 million and the Governor’s administration believes that the reduction should not further impact current training services offered. CPOA and other associations doubt that assessment, and have written the legislature and Governor to advocate for POST funding.
In terms of general numbers, Governor Brown’s $164.7 billion 2015-2016 budget proposal included a 1% General Fund spending increase that totals $158.8 billion, with $113.3B from General Fund and $45.5B from special funds. $5.9 billion from bonds make up the remaining projected spending. Overall, the May Revision reflects a $6.7 billion increase in General Fund revenues compared to the January Budget. The California Constitution directs the use of these revenues as follows:
• Proposition 98 increases General Fund spending by $5.5 billion for K 12 schools and community colleges.
• Proposition 2 requires that an additional $633 million be saved in the Rainy Day Fund and an additional $633 million be used to pay down debts and liabilities.
If your agency or county has any court debt data that would be helpful to CPOA as we monitor and discuss these proposals in the Capitol, please direct them to Shaun Rundle, Government Affairs & Public Safety Specialist at (916) 520-2248 or email@example.com.
Visit us again each Monday to read what’s happening at the Capitol with Advocacy A.B.P! To view previous posts, click here.