The most important duty of government is protecting its citizens. And in California we need to be doing a better job. In recent years, crime rates have risen in California. Crimes like homicide, robbery and vehicle theft are happening more often in our state while in other large states across the country with similar population, they're on the decline. This is not acceptable and something needs to be done.
I am proud to announce my support for Assembly Bill 2417, the Safe Neighborhoods Act, authored by Sharon Runner (R Lancaster). The Act increases penalties to criminals and targets criminal street gangs, felons with guns, and drug dealers by ensuring sufficient and stable funding to local law enforcement. It also assists local governments in enforcing compliance with Section 8 public housing requirements.
The Safe Neighborhoods Act increases penalties on gangs that commit violent felonies, criminals who use guns illegally, and repeated acts of gang-related graffiti. The Act also focuses on rehabilitation and crime prevention by creating a mentoring and job-training program for parolees, and provides funding for law-enforcement-run after-school programs.
The Act creates an annual $10 million competitive grant for enforcing Section 8 public housing requirements. In order for local agencies to receive the grant, they must ensure that all public housing recipients undergo criminal background checks and local enforcement compliance checks. The grant will help ensure that law-abiding citizens who need the public housing receive it, and those abusing the assistance do not.
The Act will grant an additional $5 million in new funding to Contra Costa County and thousands of dollars to our local cities for police, jails, probation enforcement, county sheriffs and violent-crime prosecution. New funding will be annual, so long-term public safety plans can be enacted. Without the Act, public safety funding would remain vulnerable to each year's budget negotiations.
The measure locks in a minimum annual state funding level for law enforcement and public safety programs in the state budget. It also secures public safety funds so you can rest easy knowing there are enough police officers to protect and serve your community. The budget simply can't be balanced by risking our citizens' well being.
The Safe Neighborhoods Act ensures public safety funding, which makes up less than 1 percent of the state's spending, is protected, so California in turn can defend its citizens from the dangers of gang, gun and street crime.
As always, my staff is available to help answer any questions you might have. Please contact my Brentwood office at 925-513-8558 if we can be of any assistance. You may also visit my Web site, www.assembly.ca.gov/Houston, for more information on the bonds, including how much your city will receive.
Assemblyman Guy Houston represents the 15th Assembly District, which includes portions of Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties.