Southern California breaking news and trends

LAPD outlines its budget priorities

LAPD

Andres Aguila/KPCC

The Los Angeles Police Department issued its budgetary wish list Tuesday.

Replacing broken down patrol cars, installing systemwide dashboard cameras, and buying new computers are at the top of the Los Angeles Police Department's budgetary wish list in the next fiscal year.

That is, after it pays the obligatory $1.2 billion in salaries for its police officers and civilian personnel—93 percent of the department's proposed budget for 2013-2014. The L. A. Police Commission approved the initial budget report Tuesday, asking for $1,338,369,551.

"Even though it's a large budget, it's lean and mean," Commissioner John Mack said. 

Although it will likely become leaner as the proposal makes its way through months of scrutiny and competes with other agencies' budgets, the commission outlines some items it will fight for -  notably, continuing the rollout of in-car video systems to West Bureau at an estimated cost of $8 million.

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The big bets in Jerry Brown's budget

Califonria Budget

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Gov. Jerry Brown finishes signing the the last of of the budget related bills that had been passed by the Legislature earlier in the day, at his Capitol office in in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Brown put his signature on California's new $92 billion budget just hours ahead of a signing deadline.

The state budget, signed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown, was crafted with a number of high-stakes assumptions, the L.A. Times points out today.

The future of wealth inheritance and estate tax in the country, for example, seems destined to cause a ripple that will either flood California shores with revenue, or drag the state through the sand of fiscal drought a while longer. 

The accuracy of Brown's crystal ball will be tested, and the potential consequences of potential forecast fails will play out in the uncertain future (AKA: Reply hazy). 

The Times reports that the Governor partially built the budget on the following big bets:

  • That current policy on federal estate tax will change.
  • That voters will approve $8 billion in higher taxes in November.
  • That Facebook will generate $1.9 billion in tax receipts.
  • That defunct redevelopment agencies will provide $900 million more than is currently being anticipated.

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State budget: California expected to spend less on prisons in coming years

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Corcoran State Prison is one of the state's 33 facilities. State officials hope to dramatically cut the prison budget in coming years.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is hoping to reduce its share of the state's budget over the next few years. According to Corrections Secretary Matt Cate, CDCR will take its portion of the of the general fund down to 7.5 percent in the 2015-16 fiscal year. As a comparison, CDCR, which is the state's biggest and highest funded agency, got 11 percent of the general fund in 2008-09. 

"That'll allow us to get a handle on overall general fund spending, but also allow us opportunites for funding higher education and other priorities," Cate said. 

The savings will come mostly from:

  • Not having as many inmates: under prison realignment, the counties take responsibility for low-level offenders, which means they won't be the state's responsiblity;
  • Not having as many parolees: the parole load is expected to go way down, also a function of realignment;
  • Closing facilities — specifically, the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco — and not building as many new prisons as previously proposed, meaning the state will not cash in on $4.1 billion in building bonds;
  • And the Division of Juvenile Justice, which will not keep kids as long, along with juvenile parole, which will be completely eliminated.

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Change to juvenile prison time could save state millions

Gov. Jerry Brown

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the state budget late Wednesday.

Deep inside the state budget signed Wednesday night, lies a small clause that could save the state hundreds of millions of dollars — and save juveniles in the state's youth correctional system years of incarceration.

Sumayyah Waheed of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights said juvenile "time adds," which were eliminated through the new budget, are disciplinary measures taken by correctional officers in the Division of Juvenile Justice.

When youth are sentenced to the state's juvenile prison system, they're generally given an indeterminate time to serve. A juvenile might be sentenced to a minimum in custody, like a year, with the date set for their first opportunity for parole. That date frequently gets bumped back, over and over, through time adds. Time adds, administered by a correctional officer, are not overseen by a judge or a parole board, and prevent juveniles from having the opportunity to be considered for release.

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Los Angeles maintains credit ratings despite fiscal concerns

Piles of cash

Photo by 401K via Flickr Creative Commons

Los Anglees' short-term credit ratings will remain the same, despite agencies' concerns about possible layoffs and a lack of reserve funds.

Three major agencies will maintain the city of Los Angeles’ short-term credit ratings despite concerns about a low reserve fund, police overtime and looming layoffs, according to reports released today.

Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investor Services all affirmed the city’s short-term rating for the Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes, which allow the city to pay bills now even though taxes and fees will flow in throughout the fiscal year. The city is looking to borrow about $1.2 billion. 

The stable outlooks come with warnings, however. Fitch Ratings points out the city continues to fall short of its own goal to set aside 5 percent of the General Fund for the reserves.

“While the city has taken significant budgetary actions in response to economic contraction and its personnel-related expenditure pressures, the time taken to achieve the necessary political consensus, as well as the longer term budget initiatives still in development, indicates how politically difficult it is for the city to respond nimbly,” according to the report. 

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