The Senate Spending Committee

In another example of the legislature’s ability to perform award-level Spending Show and Tell, the Senate Appropriations Committee met Monday in order to hear the pleas from legislators for more spending.

The Committee approved at least eight spending bills, and sent the rest of the thirty-three bills to suspense. And while Committee Chair Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego can really move along the long-winded witnesses, the purpose of the committee is to decide on appropriating money from the state’s coffers for more spending. It’s painful to watch.

Senator Carol Liu, D-Altadena, appears to be one of the spenders, proposing four bills including SB 1322, the Food Stamp Employment and Training Program, and SB 1084 requires the creation of another task force to “tackle poverty.”

Liu’s SB 1266 would create an alternative custody program for pregnant or inmates who are parents, to include confinement to a residential home, a residential drug or treatment program, or a transitional care facility for the purpose of keeping incarcerated parents close to their children.

There were a few memorable bills with little cost or savings attached to them. Senator Correa’s SB 1075, grants academic leave for students serving in the military, and credits the tuition already paid.

SB 1399 authored by Senator Leno, D-San Francisco, wants to create “Medical parole” for the sole purpose of moving medically and physically incapacitated prisoners into county hospitals, allowing them to draw on Social Security and Medicare. Currently 32 prisoners incapacitated receiving specialized medical treatment, are costing the state more than $40 million annually in health costs. The prisoners are under constant guard, and at the expense of the California Correctional system. Medical parole would recognize their incapacitated state making guarding them unnecessary.

Senator Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, tried to create cost savings for the state by allowing local prisons to purchase locally instead of having everything trucked in through the Prison Industry Authority (PIA). Existing law states that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation must purchase everything in the operations of all state prisons from Prison Industry Authority under the direction of the Prison Industry Board. Aanestad’s bill would have allowed smarter purchasing with substantial savings to the state. However, senators voted the bill down, 5-4.

…So much for savings in the Senate Spending Committee.

– Katy Grimes

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