|Budget Issue:||Reimbursements to counties for detaining parolees who violate the terms of their parole.|
|Program:||Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation|
|Finding or Recommendation:||Provide the proposed $86.3 million one-time augmentation to eliminate an existing backlog of unpaid claims to counties for costs incurred in detaining parole violators over a three-year period from 2010-11 to 2012-13, with a first installment of $28.8 million provided in 2010-11. However, in order to avoid the creation of an additional backlog of unpaid claims, approve the Governor's proposed base increase of $15.6 million.|
Under existing state law, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is required to reimburse counties for the costs incurred in detaining in county jails parolees who violate the terms of their parole. (Reimbursement is not required if a new criminal charge has also been filed.) The department is also required to reimburse counties for any costs they incur while providing security services and facilities for parole revocation hearings. The 2009-10 budget provided $48.9 million from the General Fund to support these reimbursements. However, the Governor’s budget for 2010-11 proposes to increase this level of funding to a total of $150.8 million. This total amount includes:
According to the department, one of the primary reasons for the backlog of claims was the significant increase in annual reimbursement claims that occurred in 2007-08 after Los Angeles County ended its contract with CDCR to house about 1,300 state parole violators in the Pitchess Detention Center and the funding for the contract was eliminated from the annual budget act. As a result, CDCR is now required to reimburse Los Angeles County for housing parole violators whose detention costs were previously funded under the Pitchess contract. However, at the time the contract was ended, CDCR did not receive an increase to its local assistance budget to account for an increase in reimbursements related to this change. Consequently, starting in 2007-08, CDCR has not been able to pay all its reimbursement claims each year and has carried forward into future fiscal years unpaid claims. For example, at the end of 2007-08, $26.2 million in claims were unpaid. This backlog is projected to increase to $86.3 million in 2009-10.
Given that the $86.3 million backlog of unpaid claims is for expenses that have already occurred, the state is required to reimburse counties for these costs. However, in view of the state’s current General Fund shortfall, the state may not be able to afford to pay the full amount owed now, as proposed by the Governor. As an alternative, we recommend the Legislature provide the $86.3 million over a three-year period from 2010-11 to 2012-13, with a first installment of $28.8 million provided in 2010-11. Compared to the Governor’s budget, this would result in budget-year savings of $57.5 million.
However, in order to avoid the creation of an additional backlog of unpaid claims, we recommend that the Legislature approve the proposed base increase of $15.6 million. Since the department will likely revise its budget request based on updated information regarding county claims in the current year, we also recommend that the Legislature withhold final action on this request until the May Revision.