SACRAMENTO — Eyeing a projected $10.3 billion state budget surplus, Republican leaders Tuesday proposed spending $710 million on jails, crime labs, law enforcement equipment and prosecution of gun-related crimes.
The anti-crime money is among a series of GOP budget priorities that will be outlined over the next several weeks and will also include more money for schools, public works projects, social programs and tax cuts.
“We believe we can increase funding for education, put a significant amount into our long-term infrastructure needs, invest in public safety, (and) the safety net and reduce the tax burden on Californians,” said Senate Minority Leader Jim Brulte, R-Rancho Cucamonga.
Brulte and Assembly Minority Leader Bill Campbell, R-Villa Park, said the priorities were developed during a three-day postelection retreat in San Diego that included GOP lawmakers from both houses.
Campbell said that having the two caucuses make joint proposals was something new.
The two leaders proposed spending:
• $100 million for law enforcement equipment, including radios, patrol cars, fingerprint scanners and other improvements in technology. The money would be allocated on a per capita basis with each local agency getting at least $150,000.
• $400 million to build, renovate or expand local jails and juvenile detention facilities, with the 20 counties under court-imposed jail population limits getting the best shot at the money.
• $200 million to renovate or expand local crime labs.
• $10 million for grants to district attorneys to investigate and prosecute cases involving illegal possession or use of firearms.
The proposals are for the fiscal year that starts next July 1.
The Legislature’s nonpartisan budget analyst, Elizabeth Hill, predicted earlier this month that California’s booming economy would generate a $10.3 billion state surplus by the end of the next fiscal year.
That projection is expected to trigger a variety of spending proposals. Gov. Gray Davis is scheduled to make his budget requests early in January.
The Legislature’s Democratic leaders have said the surplus should be used to improve schools, community colleges, transportation, housing and health care programs but they have downplayed the need for new tax cuts.
When asked why Democrats, who dominate both houses, should pay attention to the GOP proposals, Brulte said, “They make good sense.”
There’s another reason: Even though they lost seats in the last election, Republicans still have enough votes to block approval of a budget bill, which needs two-thirds majorities to pass.
Paul Hefner, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said Democrats would probably be receptive to at least some of the GOP crime spending proposals.
“If you look at a lot of the things they are now making priorities — public safety grants, crime labs — these are things that have been priorities for us going back several years,” he said.