Prop 19 Could Mean Big Bucks for California


California's Legislative Analysts Office has come out with its calculations about the effects on the state's budget of Proposition 19, the tax and legalize marijuana for adults initiative. While filled with uncertainty, the upshot is its likely to save the cash-strapped state hundreds of millions compared to the status quo.

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Some of the reasons for the likely savings, as summed up at the Riverside Press-Enterprise:

"We estimate that the state and local governments could eventually collect hundreds of millions of dollars annually in additional revenues," the LAO found.....

Prop. 19 could reduce correctional costs by "tens of millions of dollars" a year. "The county jail savings would be offset to the extent that jail beds no longer needed for marijuana offenders were used for other criminals who are no being released early because of a lack of jail space," the report states.

The measure also would reduce law enforcement costs. "However, it is likely that the state and local governments would redirect their resources to other law enforcement and court activities," according to the report.

See the full LAO report.

Still, despite its humanitarian and cost-savings bonafides, politicians don't love Prop 19. Law and order Republicans predictably aren't on board, but neither are most major Democrats in the state, as Capitol Weekly reports. Sen. Diane Feinstein, would-be Gov. Jerry Brown, and state AG candidate Kamala Harris all refuse to support the Prop, for different reasons.

Prop 19 supporters say they did not expect any politicians to jump on board, and are happy at least that state Democrats are neutral rather than actively campaigning against it.

Since counties will get to decide their own tax rates under Prop 19, it's difficult beforehand to know how much revenue it will end up generating for state government entities.

Image taken by Flickr user Laughing Squid. Used under user Creative Commons license.

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