Press Release  | 05/15/2003

Prop. 36 'Realignment' Deferred, Probably Dead As a Concept

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Gov. Davis Drops Proposal to Shift Prop. 36 to Counties Amid Legal Hurdles, Opposition by Legislators and Initiative Sponsors

SACRAMENTO, May 14 - Gov. Gray Davis effectively conceded defeat today in his effort to force "realignment" of Prop. 36 funds and programs, with his May revision of the budget punting the concept until next year.

Bill Zimmerman, who managed the campaign for Prop. 36 and serves on the Statewide Advisory Group supervising implementation, said, "TheDavis administration hatched a flawed plan for realignment and then failed to admit its own mistakes. That caused the whole package to be delayed. But in no other area of proposed realignment did the governor face the buzzsaw he faced with Prop. 36."

"Gov. Davis saw a major legal challenge on the horizon," Zimmerman said, "and unified opposition from a wide range of people concerned with Prop. 36. It is fair to say the governor finally blinked. Realigning Prop. 36 was a bad idea, and it seems now to be a dead idea. I sincerely doubt we will see this concept come back."

In January, after Gov. Davis first proposed "realignment" of Prop. 36 programs, supporters complained that the move would end voter-guaranteed treatment funding, state oversight and evaluation of the law's impact. In late April, the Office of Legislative Counsel cast grave doubt on the legality of realignment, given the clear mandates of Prop. 36 and the fact that the law's appropriations are not subject to the budget process. On May 1, a Senate budget subcommittee voted unanimously against realignment of Prop. 36 and all alcohol and drug treatment programs.

Whitney Taylor, director of Prop. 36 implementation for the Drug Policy Alliance in Sacramento, said, "Ending the threat of realignment means preserving Prop. 36 and all its early successes. For all the discussion of this issue we have seen in Sacramento, this is really a victory for the people on the front lines. We can now reassure them that they can continue to do the work the voters asked them to do - to save lives and save money by treating nonviolent drug users."

Roberta Green, Campaign for New Drug Policies at (310) 394-2952 or Whitney Taylor, Drug Policy Alliance at (916) 444-3751

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