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Public Safety: League analysis of the 2020-21 Proposed State Budget

January 17, 2020
Posted Jan. 10, 2020; Updated Jan. 17, 2020
The Governor’s 2020-21 State Budget includes several components of targeted funding that pertain, albeit indirectly, to public safety at the city level. These dollars are spread across a variety of agencies and departments, including the Department of Forestry and Fire (CAL FIRE), the Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the Department of Justice. Here is a synopsis of some of the most significant items:
  • $120 million General Fund in 2020-21 ($150 million ongoing) for additional resources that would provide CAL FIRE operational flexibility throughout peak fire season and beyond, based on fire conditions. Depending on CAL FIRE’s operational needs, these additional resources would be available to:
  • Provide coverage behind personnel vacations, sick days, and training, while also providing additional resources during predictive weather events and major incidents.
  • Provide an immediate resource pool to staff additional engines during late fall, winter, and early spring, should conditions require an increase to the existing 65 year-round engines.
  • Pre-position firefighting personnel in high‑risk areas of the state by adding a fourth firefighter on a portion of CAL FIRE engines, as fire conditions dictate. 
  • The proposed budget includes permanent funding to pre-position additional firefighting personnel on a portion of engines or staff engines earlier in the spring or later in the fall and winter, as fire conditions warrant, rather than continuing the current practice of adding additional firefighter surge capacity on a year‑to‑year basis. 
Local Public Safety
Adult Probation
  • $60 million proposed from General Fund annually for three years and $30 million General Fund in 2023-24, to supervise and provide probation services for misdemeanants, with the aim of improving public safety by reducing recidivism of these individuals. 
Proposition 47 Savings
The Department of Finance estimates net General Fund savings of $122.5 million, an increase of $44 million over the estimated savings in 2019-20.
  • This increase is attributable primarily to increased savings resulting from the state’s reduced reliance on contract facilities to house prison inmates.
  • These funds will be allocated according to the formula outlined in the initiative, which requires 65 percent be allocated for grants to public agencies to support various recidivism reduction programs (such as mental health and substance use services), 25 percent for grants to support truancy and dropout prevention programs, and 10 percent for grants for victims' services. 
Regulation and Tax Reform
  • The Administration plans to consolidate the three cannabis licensing entities into a single Department of Cannabis Control by July 2021. Establishing a stand-alone department with dedicated enforcement will centralize and align critical regulatory functions to build a successful legal cannabis market, and create a single point of contact for cannabis licensees and local governments.
  • The cannabis excise tax is forecast to generate $479 million in 2019-20 and $550 million in 2020-21. This forecast assumes continued growth of more than 15 percent annually as new businesses continue to enter the marketplace and local jurisdictions adjust to the state’s legal framework.
  • The Administration also proposes to change the point of collection of cannabis taxes, moving the responsibility for the cultivation excise tax from the final distributor to the first distributor and for the retail excise tax from the distributor to the retailer.
    • The Administration contends that this proposal is intended to reduce administrative and tax burdens on both California Department of Tax and Fee Administration and industry stakeholders respectively. There is some concern, however, that this move is being pushed by large vertically integrated companies, under the guise of tax reform, and will weaken the distributor model — ultimately eroding the regulatory framework created under Proposition 64. 
Cannabis Tax Fund Allocation
  • 60 percent ($199.7 million) to education, prevention, and treatment of youth substance use disorders and school retention.
  • 20 percent ($66.6 million) for clean-up, remediation, and enforcement of environmental impacts created by illegal cannabis cultivation.
  • 20 percent ($66.6 million) to public safety-related activities. 
Department of Justice
Bureau of Firearms
  • $5 million General Fund in 2020-21 and 2021-22 to regulate and track the sale of firearm precursor parts. AB 879 (Gipson, Chapter 730, Statutes of 2019) requires the sale of firearm precursor parts to be processed through a licensed firearm precursor part vendor beginning July 1, 2024. Precursor parts can be used to manufacture “ghost guns” that are untraceable due to a lack of serial numbers or identifying markers. Given the risk that such guns present to public safety, the proposed budget includes resources to accelerate the implementation of these requirements to July 1, 2022.
  • $2.4 million Dealers’ Record of Sale Special Account in 2020-21, $1.4 million in 2021-22, and $379,000 annually thereafter to implement and enforce the provisions of SB 61 (Portantino, Chapter 737, Statutes of 2019), which prohibits the sale of semiautomatic centerfire rifles to any person under 21 years of age.
Other Significant Department of Justice Investments
  • Bureau of Forensic Services — $32 million one-time funds ($22 million General Fund and $10 million Fingerprint Fees Account) to backfill the continued decline in fine and fee revenues in the DNA Identification Fund. This funding would enable the department to continue processing forensic evidence for counties.
  • Tax Recovery in the Underground Economy (TRUE) Enforcement Teams (AB 1296, Gonzalez, Chapter 626, Statutes of 2019) – $5.7 million ongoing General Fund to bolster the two existing TRUE teams to fulfill requirements under AB 1296 to prosecute violations of labor, tax, insurance, and licensing laws by businesses and individuals in the underground economy.
  • California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS): Immigration (AB 1747, Gonzalez, Chapter 789, Statutes of 2019) — $2.8 million General Fund in 2020-21, $3.3 million in 2021-22, and $2.9 million annually thereafter to conduct investigations and audits to monitor compliance with AB 1747, which limits the use of CLETS for immigration enforcement purposes.
  • Bureau of Gambling Control — $5.4 million ongoing Gambling Control Fund to conduct field inspections, criminal investigations, and reviews of cardrooms and third party providers of proposition player services.

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