From the President

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year everyone! No sooner did the new year start, and we find ourselves in a familiar position. Looking for a solution to the state's budget woes. Nobody has a magic bullet, or an overriding solution to the problems we face. Yes, problems. It's not just the fact that we're facing an estimated $25 billion plus budget deficit over a period of 18 months, but it's trying to resolve a myriad of other longstanding issues; employment (unemployment), rescuing the state's education system, and control of the state's water systems to name a few. Raising taxes are only part of the solution. Making the decision to cut programs and services will also be necessary, along with creating systemic changes both at the state and national levels. Governor Brown has the unenviable task of governing during the time of an economic crisis. Granted, this has been ongoing for several years now, but once the smoke cleared from the last electoral campaign, we all realized that solving the state's budget crisis is still going to be a monumental task; one that'll take years to reverse our current course.

Already, Governor Brown has indicated that there is a need to realign services. “To realign responsibilities, it involves welfare, it involves Medi-Cal, it involves parole, probation, many other things,” Brown said on his second day in office. Insiders have already indicated that his upcoming budget proposal will include the following: diversion of low-level offenders to county jails and eliminating the division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Both will impact our profession and will be a big part of how the state will plan to solve part of the budget crisis. The key to this shift, and giving it any chance for success, will be in the transfer of money to local governments. Not only will the money go for housing and programming of those released back into local jurisdictions, but let's hope that it will also translate into job creation for locals who will be dealing with even larger caseloads and more criminally sophisticated offenders.

Two other issues have been hovering on the horizon, the scheduled elimination of the Vehicle License Fee (VLF) and continued attacks on our Pensions. Both issues have made our front page on the website (see SCOPO News Headlines). If the VLF is allowed to expire on June 30th, 2011, we will see the elimination of funding for probation programs throughout the state; including programs funded through the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act, and Juvenile Probation and Camps Funding. The latest attack on our pensions comes from an old foe, Marcia Fritz' California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility (CFFR). If her group has their way, current and future employees would be responsible to pay half the cost of retirement benefits, along with other substantive changes to pension systems. In order to confront these issues, get informed, meet and educate your local state legislator and go on the offensive against those determined to bring us down!

It's critical for all of you reading this, both members and non-members alike, to either spread the word for others to join SCOPO, or to contact SCOPO to apply for membership. More and more forces are lining up against us, either to attack the gains that we've made over the years (i.e. pay, benefits, and retirement), or to cut us out of the picture altogether. Now is the time to stand together!

Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.

Paul Brennan
President, SCOPO