By Eric Grammatico
SACRAMENTO, CA – Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislators are still negotiating California’s 2021-2022 fiscal budget more than three weeks after the start of the fiscal year—Newsom and lawmakers agreed to a $262.6 billion provisional budget on June 25, a near-30 percent increase from last year’s $202.1 billion.
The budget significantly increases funds for Environmental Protection (+122 percent), K-12 Education (+35 percent), Higher Education (+33 percent), and Government Operations (+533 percent). There are, however, several accounts that will receive small increases, including Corrections and Rehabilitation (+three percent).
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) released a statement in response to legislators boosting funds for state-owned prisons, expressing stark disapproval for the budget increase and a sense of betrayal from Newsom for delaying his prior commitment to shut down more state-owned prisons.
“The relentless growth of prison spending in California is inarguably one of the most calamitous events in our state’s history,” said CURB’s statement.
CURB noted this year’s increase may suggest that the governor thinks it is necessary to ramp up prison spending even though the state’s prison population has declined by 20,000 since the start of the pandemic, according to an estimate cited by Capitol Weekly.
With the decrease in the number of inmates (-20 percent) and the increase in prison spending, that +three percent spending boost allocated by the governor turns into a much greater number than what is reported.
CURB is a coalition of 70 organizations that advocates for prison reform by reducing the number of inmates in correctional facilities. The coalition also advocate for the reduction of government spending on Corrections and Rehabilitation ($17.2 billion) and the allocation of those funds to Health and Human Services ($83.7 billion).