Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, announced his support Monday morning for legislation and a ballot initiative that would guarantee public safety funding, create a new agency and expand sentences for drug and gang-rated crimes.
The two parallel efforts, Assembly Bill 2417 and the “Safe Neighborhoods Act,” calls for the creation of a commission to evaluate and disclose the effectiveness of crime prevention measures and a new Office of Public Safety Education and Information.
Houston, who is also running in the June 3 election for Contra Costa County supervisor against incumbent Mary Nejedly Piepho, held a press conference in Alamo with county Sheriff Warren Rupf to announce his endorsement.
The assemblyman’s public show of support is more likely to boost his supervisor campaign than help pass the legislation.
GOP Assemblywoman Sharon Runner of Lancaster introduced the bill in early March but the Democratic-controlled Legislature has little appetite for a high-priced “tough on crime” measure at a time when lawmakers face an $8 billion deficit.
The legislation would hike public safety spending by $365 million annually and protect $600 million in existing spending from cuts, according to the independent Legislative Analysts Office.
Runner and her husband, former Assemblyman George Runner, launched the initiative drive in February. They have until June 2 to gather 433,971 signatures required to place it on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The measure includes at least seven separate funds including $500 million a year from the state general fund to augment local public safety projects and $20 million for parolee programs.
Other funds would help crime victims, pay rewards for information in felony cases, help local governments combat illegal activities of people who receive federal housing assistance and upgrade facilities for young offenders.
The bill would also increase sentences for methamphetamine-related and gang crimes.
If adopted by the voters or the Legislature, Contra Costa County receive an additional $5 million.
UPDATE 4:55 P.M. Since I didn’t make the press conference this morning, I spoke with Houston on the phone a few minutes ago.
He agrees that budgeting by formula is a poor approach but says the Republicans have no choice if they hope to protect public safety funding.
“Every year, we have to fight to keep these programs in the budget, let alone add dollars,” Houston said. “This proposition ends that battle.”
And although the initiative would increase public safety spending, Houston said that money would come from existing sources of cash rather than tax hikes.
Here’s the text of Houston’s press release on the subject.
Assemblyman Guy Houston (R-San Ramon) held a press conference Monday to announce his support for Assembly Bill 2417, the Safe Neighborhoods Act, authored by Sharon Runner (R-Antelope Valley). The Act increases penalties for criminals and targets criminal street gangs, felons with guns, and drug dealers by insuring sufficient funding to local law enforcement.
“Government’s most important duty is to protect its citizens,” said Assemblyman Houston. “This legislation ensures that the resources local law enforcement needs aren’t vulnerable to funding cuts.”
Additional penalties under AB 2417 include imposing a ten year increase on gang
members who commit violent felonies, strengthening penalties to criminals who use guns illegally, and increasing penalties for repeated acts of gang-related graffiti. The bill also focuses on rehabilitation and crime prevention by creating a mentoring and job training program for parolees upon release from prison and providing funding for law
enforcement-run after school programs.
“Difficult budget decisions will be made this year, but cutting funding to public safety is simply not an option,” said Houston. “Government needs to protect its citizens from the dangers of gang, gun, and street crime.”
The Safe Neighborhood Act will provide over $5 million in new funding to Contra Costa County for police, jails, probation, prosecution and enforcing compliance with federal
public housing regulations. Also, the measure locks in a minimum annual state funding
level for law enforcement and public safety programs.
Assemblyman Guy Houston represents the 15th Assembly District, which includes portions of Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento, and San Joaquin counties.
Safe Neighborhoods Act – Assembly Bill 2417 Runner
- If the Safe Neighborhoods Act passes, CCC will receive $9,576,604 for police, jails, probation, prosecution and other facets of ensuring public safety:
o The County currently receives about $4.5 million
- There will be $5,050,836 in new funds to the county-these funds are annual so long-term public safety plans can be enacted; these new dollars will be for:
o County Sheriff Jail Facilities ($691,895)
o County Sheriff victim notification program (calls to victims when
the person who committed a crime against them is being paroled)
o District Attorney gang, vehicle theft, and violent crime prosecution
o Adult probation caseload ($1,383,791)
o Juvenile probation caseload and facilities ($1,383,791)
o High-risk probation ($415,137)
o GPS monitoring ($415,137)
- Also, locks in annual level of funding for the state COPS program with a
o Sheriffs ($361,248)
o District Attorneys ($356,326)
o County Jail ($356,326)
o Juvenile Justice ($3,451,866)
- Current budget proposal includes $60 million in cuts to programs that would be secured by the Safe Neighborhoods Act which guarantees a levelof funding for public safety. Cities and counties can make long-term enforcement plans, hire new deputies, and secure new equipment
- Under AB 2417, the Safe Neighborhoods Act, Alameda County will receive $7,395,204 in additional funding bringing the total to $13,790,073….the breakdown will be similar to that of the funds going to Contra Costa County.