Yesterday Keegan Hamilton delved into a recent bipartisan bill passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor last month authorizing counties to establish juvenile gang courts. The idea was inspired by a program already in place in Yakima that's had considerable success. The only problem:, budget issues may derail the promising initiative before it even becomes a law.
Impressed by the outcomes in Yakima, the legislature approved the gang court bill almost unanimously. Part of the appeal, however, was that the law had zero impact on the budget. Counties are authorized to establish gang courts, but there is no additional funding to help make that happen. The fiscal-impact summary for the bill says the courts are "subject to the availability of funds appropriated for this purpose," but the lawmakers did not approve a companion bill that would have allocated several million dollars to combat gang violence in the state.
Hamilton's story inspired commenter Trebag to weigh in:
These are the types of programs that our state dollars should be supporting. Failure to fund these creative solutions juvenile gang violence will only cost the taxpayers more money in the long run and more importantly, will keep gang violence in our neighborhoods.