Press Release  | 02/07/2003

Prop. 36 Supporters Warn Governor: Budget Plan Is Illegal

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'Realignment' Plan Violates Ballot Initiative; Proponents Vow Lawsuit

SACRAMENTO, Feb. 7 - Governor Gray Davis is being warned today that a part of his budget plan would violate voter-approved Proposition 36. Supporters of the law, requiring drug treatment instead of jail for drug possession, vowed to sue if the proposal is not withdrawn.

A letter was delivered to Gov. Davis today by an attorney representing the Campaign for New Drug Policies (CNDP), which managed the campaign for Prop. 36, and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The groups argue that the budget plan's far-reaching "realignment" proposal goes too far where Prop. 36 is concerned, starting with its plan to end state funding of Prop. 36.

The letter, by attorney Jonathan Weissglass of the San Francisco-based firm Altshuler, Berzon, Nussbaum, Rubin & Demain, concludes that several changes to Prop. 36 envisioned under realignment "would be inconsistent with the purposes of the initiative and frustrate its implementation, and would therefore be unlawful."

Daniel Abrahamson, director of legal affairs at DPA and a co-author of Prop. 36, said, "The authors of Prop. 36 chose to place state government at the center of Prop. 36 implementation. This ensures fair and adequate funding, oversight and auditing. These functions are critical to ensuring the success of Prop 36. But the governor's proposal eviscerates the authors' intent and would result in Prop. 36 programs dying on the vine."

Bill Zimmerman, executive director of CNDP, said, "In our view, the governor's plan to change Prop. 36 through realignment must have been a mistake. But the budget proposal's conflicts with Prop. 36 are plain. We hope Gov. Davis will recognize the error and correct it without need for taking this fight to the legislature or the courts."

Tony Newman at (510) 208-7711

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