California has a big stake in the debate begun Monday with release of the Obama administration's proposed Fiscal 2013 budget, even if the document has only a short lifespan.
If adopted, Obama's budget would mean fewer subsidies for Central Valley farmers, smaller block grants for Valley counties and less money for incarcerating the illegal immigrants who crowd the state's jails and prisons. The budget also subtracts money used to clean California beaches and construct national park facilities while it invests more in the state's 2.5 million community college students.
The administration, for instance, proposes a modest $70 million for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, down from the current $240 million. Roughly 13 percent of California state prison inmates are identified as illegal immigrants; in some county jails, the percentage may be even higher. Overall, California and its counties spend an estimated $1 billion to incarcerate illegal immigrants.
"That leaves a big hole," Matthew Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said of the funding shortfall in a recent interview. "I would love to see the federal government play a bigger role."
All told, the administration identified 210 federal programs for notable cuts or consolidation. Many of the proposals are retreads that have been rejected before