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Hold Up: Concerns About Gov. Brown's Prison Spending Budget

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By Nick Wilson/Special to LAistConcerns were raised this week over Governor Brown’s budget proposal for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Last year, the CDCR overspent its budget, shifted millions of dollars allocated for rehabilitation programs into prison security, and deferred payments to contractors.

In an attempt at more realistic budgeting, Governor Brown’s proposal includes an additional $395 million in General Fund support, as well as a $292 million in personnel savings. What the proposal does not include, however, is details of how these savings will be achieved or guarantees that the CDCR will not overspend in the future.

In a report issued Monday, the nonpartisan Legislative Analysts Office recommended that the legislature not approve the administration’s proposal until many of its questions are answered. According to the report, $300 million in last year’s budget allocated to programs such as adult parole and rehabilitation was shifted to other areas including prison security. The department also shifted expenses into future fiscal years by delaying the payment of $90 million in contracts.

LAO's Paul Golaszewski told LAist, “We are concerned that some of the Governor’s other proposals could lead to a new shortfall within the department’s budget. For example, there are reductions to inmate medical care and personnel costs, but the administration has not identified how these savings would be achieved. In the past, such unallocated cuts have usually not resulted in the budgeted level of savings, and can lead to shortfalls within the department’s budget.”

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Given the department’s history of overspending, LAO’s report also called for stronger legislative oversight of spending. Representatives of the CDCR faced difficult questions before Wednesday’s Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety chaired by Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles).