The Legislative Analyst’s Office has just issued a report critiquing Jerry Brown’s plan for the CDCR budget (which we briefly discussed just a few days ago), and it does not paint a pretty picture. LAO finds serious overbudgeting in some areas, and is deeply concerned with CDCR exceeding its budget in several areas.
General Fund support for CDCR, particularly with regard to CCPOA salaries and overtime (already on the top steps of the salary scale), appears to be excessive, and CDCR has already exceeded its authority in these matters. Among the other surprising expenditures are $55.2 million in medical transportation costs, $20.5 million in legal costs (wouldn’t it be cheaper to decrease population, which would also mean that the population decrease order would not have to be fought in court?), and $17.3 million in “empty beds” in case incarceration needs change.
The LAO report critiques the CDCR practice of notifying the legislature of budget shortfalls after the fact, thus coercing legislators to increase the budget in restrospect. Also, the budget does not take into account savings in adult parole and administration, which might mean the money could go elsewhere, where it is needed.
A particularly thorny issue is the fact that the budget assumes that CDCR will be making personnel cuts it has no intention of making absent a reduction in inmate population.
The budget, says the report, does not hold CDCR accountable regarding its expenditures, and there is no guarantee against CDCR pulling its retrospective budgeting trick again on the legislature. LAO therefore recommends that the legislature demand accountability and accuracy in the correctional budget.