The best solutions to complex issues often come from a solid application of the three Cs: communication, collaboration and cooperation. And that is exactly what was going on last month in the CSAC Conference Center in Sacramento. About 40 county administrative officers from across the state came together to talk about allocation of AB 109 public safety realignment funding. The meeting was sponsored by County Administrative Officers Association of California (CAOAC) in cooperation with CSAC.
Some counties in which the jail was already crowded or where the local economy has been especially depressed are struggling to stretch the state dollars to manage the newly realigned populations. The CAOAC meeting was a chance to explore the challenges and start working toward a solution. The group was challenged to identify potential data elements that could be incorporated into a future funding formula and to articulate localized or regional factors that could affect a county’s AB 109 implementation efforts.
With 58 counties as diverse as Alameda and Alpine, or Los Angeles and Lake, finding common ground about dividing up large sums of money in a way that skillfully recognizes the diversity among communities isn’t going to be easy. Funding for AB 109 in this fiscal year is set at $843 million, but, according to the Governor’s budget estimates, another $77 million dollars will be available to support these programs in 2013 due to growth in the sales tax. By 2014, we’ll need to identify a new, longer-term mechanism for distributing AB 109 realignment funds to the 58 counties.
There were no firm decisions to report from the meeting this week. But — there was progress toward finding a way to allocate the “growth” money this year, and thoughtful input on factors that could be considered in the longer-term allocation formula. Ideally, the formula will reward counties that implement innovative programs that reduce recidivism and incarceration, and also help those counties that are struggling with the weight of these new responsibilities. It’s difficult, complex work – and it will take a lot more of the three Cs to get there, but this week’s meeting was a productive step forward.
Gregg Fishman is the Communications Coordinator for the California State Association of Counties.
This piece was originally published on the CSAC Counties blog