Friday, April 29, 2011

Associated Press: Approval Near for Bill funding Counties New Jails

Bill would boost county money for state prisoners

Published: Thursday, April 28, 2011 15:37 PDT
The Associated Press

© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

California counties are one signature away from easier access to jail financing as they prepare to house up to 40,000 inmates who will be transferred from state prisons.

By passing an amendment to a budget bill Thursday, the state Assembly allowed counties to put up just 10 percent of a jail's overall cost, rather than the current 25 percent. The Senate already approved the revision to AB94, which goes to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown for signing.

The money is part of $1.2 billion in jail financing the Legislature approved in 2007. It would help build new county jail beds as the governor seeks to shift several state responsibilities to counties, including oversight of some lower-level convicts and parolees.

Supporters say counties need more money to handle so many new inmates but are struggling to come up with the matching money as their economic fortunes have fallen amid the recession.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Sherman Oaks, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, called the legislation a technical clean-up bill.

About half the funding from the 2007 bill, AB900, has been awarded to 11 counties that agreed to match a quarter of the cost. Those counties cannot reapply for the 10 percent rate if they have spent any of the money.

"This is also a simple issue of equity and changing rules during the middle of the game," said Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills.

He was one of 14 lawmakers to vote against the amendment, while 48 others approved it.

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