In a unanimous vote led by Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson on March 1, the city council voted to urge Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers in Sacramento to fully fund Prop 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund (SNSF) in this year’s state June budget.
The resolution, which was also supported by Councilmember Joe Buscaino and members of the Community Coalition, would change six of the lowest level nonviolent crimes, such as simple drug possession and shoplifting under $950, from felony/wobblers to misdemeanors, and apply the savings from these diverted inmates to grants within public and social services throughout the State.
The Los Angeles County Public Defender and Alternate Public Defender estimate approximately 690,000 residents in Los Angeles County are eligible for reclassification under Proposition 47. The reevaluation of the SNSF formula will provide additional funds to the City and County for reentry, recidivism, youth development, crime victim services and treatment services, mental health needs and supervision programs for the impacted population.
Although voters passed Proposition 47 in November 2016, Governor Brown underfunded the money owed to local communities to implement Prop. 47 in the state’s previous budget. The governor estimated $29.3 million in savings from Prop 47 in his January state budget proposal, whereas the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office estimated $100 million higher than what the Governor proposed.
The resolution will urge for full funding of Prop. 47 in the state’s June budget to support local implementation efforts and will propose that the governor reevaluate the formula that determines funding.
“We are calling on our leaders in Sacramento to ensure that local communities, especially here in Los Angeles, have the resources they need to properly fund services, and to ensure we have the ability to meet our public safety needs,” said Harris-Dawson.
“Proposition 47 is saving the state millions in reduced prison and other costs, but if we don’t uphold the law and reinvest that money in our local communities, we are setting ourselves up for failure,” he observed.
“Voters passed Proposition 47 under the promise that cities and counties would receive money to implement robust services for lower level drug and theft offenders in the form of substance abuse programs, alternative housing and more,” said Councilman Buscaino.
“Unfortunately, we have yet to see any of this funding, which is why we are calling on the state to fully fund the promise it made to voters and make Prop 47 what voters intended it to be: not only the reduction of some felonies to misdemeanors, but also significant funding for alternative programs to help break the cycle of petty thefts and drug abuse,” he said.
A number of community supporters arrived in council chambers to voice their support for Proposition 47.
“A lot of people in our community can’t even see a future,” said Laray Cantley of L.A. Voice. “I support Proposition 47 so that we can restore hope to our community.”