Newsom’s Bad News for California Police and Prisons

By: Georgia | Last updated: Jun 26, 2024

As California wrestles with a hefty $27.6 billion deficit, Governor Gavin Newsom is making cuts, particularly on public safety, which includes law enforcement and prisons.

The plan? A whopping $97 million from trial courts and $10 million from the Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement. 

California’s Budget Crisis

The deadline for California to get its budget sorted for the 2024-25 fiscal year is June. But due to the budget being in a deficit, Newsom has had the difficult task of figuring out how to sort out this budget.

A person holding a smartphone with the calculator app open and a folder with papers inside underneath.

Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Newsom’s critics have said that he is panicking on how to sort out the budget crisis and what this will look like for Californians over the next year.


California Owes the Federal Government Money

In addition to its budget woes, California currently owes the federal government $52.7 million.

A pile of $100 notes.

Giorgio Trovato/Unsplash

This money is due to the Golden State requesting money to reimburse services provided to non-citizens, which shouldn’t have been done.

What’s Really Getting Cut?

A Newsom spokesperson declared “no cuts to law enforcement.” 

Close-up of a police car with red and blue lights flashing in the dark

Source: Scott Rodgerson/Unsplash

However, the Department of Finance begs to differ, citing a 1.6% shrinkage in the Department of Justice’s overall budget.

Crime Concerns Amid Fiscal Austerity

Even as California tightens its budget, the state is seeing an alarming rise in crime, with thefts and violent offenses escalating. 

Close-up of the side of a Los Angeles Police Department car showing the motto "To Protect and to Serve" alongside the city's seal

Source: Nick Page/Unsplash

This uptick is making headlines as businesses, both big and small, face an onslaught of high-profile thefts. The rising crime complicates the decision to scale back on funding for law enforcement.

Cuts to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is set to receive an $80 million cut, eliminating 4600 beds across 13 prisons.

A black and white image of prison bars with the shadow of a person.

Ye Jinghan/Unsplash

According to the California government, the reason for eliminating these beds is due to the lessening population.


Police Cuts Cause a Rise in Crime

Over the last few years, there has been an increasing number of cries to “defund the police.” However, it appears that doing this does more harm than good.

Yellow tape with black writing that says, "DO NOT CROSS POLICE."

David von Diemar/Unsplash

Data has shown that mid-sized cities throughout the US have seen a rise in crime when the police have been defunded. If California does this, they should likely expect the same to happen there.


Californians on the Move

A United Van Lines study reveals that the Golden State is losing residents fast, contributing to the budgetary blues.

A busy and colorful Hollywood Boulevard at dusk with neon signs, palm trees, and a bustling crowd,

Source: Lala Miklós/Unsplash

High living costs and blue-collar stagnation aren’t helping either.


A Troubling Uptick in Violence

The first quarter of 2024 brought a concerning rise in violence across Los Angeles, with violent crimes up by 2.9% and robberies by 9.5%. 

Panoramic view of downtown Los Angeles during the day, showing a dense cluster of high-rise buildings

Source: Pedro Marroquin/Unsplash

More disturbingly, homicides initially spiked by 28.1%, although they later stabilized, resulting in a total of 81 murders during the period, as reported by NBC Los Angeles.


Supermarkets Are Removing Self-Checkout Machines

Due to the rise in crime throughout parts of California, businesses have had to take drastic measures, so much so that some supermarkets have had to get rid of their self-checkout machines as these have helped theft rise.

A self-checkout machine asking for a tip.


One of these supermarkets is Safeway, which removed its self-checkout machines earlier this year. Other stores have also taken measures, such as Frederickson Hardware & Paint, which now assigns an employee to a customer while they are shopping to ensure they don’t try to steal anything.


Crimes Are Down in Other Areas

While crime is up in Los Angeles, the latest stats from the Governor’s office show that crime has been down in San Francisco compared to 2023.

A police car with red lights and some smoke to the left of it.

Campbell Jensen/Unsplash

In the first quarter of 2024, property crime was down by 32%, and violent crime was down by 14%, which has been helped by local law enforcement. This shows that it would be a massive mistake to take funding away from the police.


More Police on the Streets

One of the main reasons crime has gone down in San Francisco is the increase in police presence on the streets, which deters people from committing crimes.

Police in riot gear on the street next to a police car.

AJ Colores/Unsplash

Even when a crime had been committed, police were able to get to the scene relatively quickly and make arrests.


The Cycle of Crime and Budget Cuts

Jimmy T. Patronis, a Florida CFO, criticizes Newsom’s public safety cuts, saying they’re fueling a “vicious cycle” of high crime driving businesses away. 

Governor Gavin Newsom speaking at a podium inside a building, gesturing during his speech with a flag and a seal in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

With California slashing funds for prisons and law enforcement training, the debate intensifies.


Florida’s Gain from California’s Pain

Patronis attributes Florida’s budget surplus in part to California’s missteps. 

Aerial view of a coastal town showcasing a long stretch of sandy beach adjacent to a dense residential area

Source: Lance Asper/Unsplash

He boasts about recruiting law enforcement officers with attractive bonuses, taking advantage of California’s “poor governance.”


Worries Over Newsom Becoming President

One of Patronis’s main worries is Newsom’s ambitions to become US President one day, which could now be affected by how these budget cuts have played out.

Gavin Newsom speaking at an event with a woman next to him.

Office of the California Governor/Wikimedia Commons

Some presidents and politicians are known for lying to get voters on side, which Patronis believes Newsom would be perfect for.


The San Francisco Flight

San Francisco’s soaring crime stats—with thousands of thefts and burglaries—might explain why major retailers like Aldo, J.Crew, and Madewell are saying goodbye to the city. 

Scenic view of San Francisco's skyline at sunset, featuring the iconic Transamerica Pyramid and colorful Victorian houses in the foreground

Source: Joshua Sortino/Unsplash

It’s a trend that’s hollowing out once-thriving shopping centers.


Defending the Financial Decisions on Law Enforcement

Despite the cuts, Newsom’s office stands by its record of supporting law enforcement, highlighting a significant increase in funding. 

Governor Gavin Newsom speaking passionately at a conference podium, with an attentive audience in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Funding for DOJ has increased 33 percent – more than $200 million increase in police funding — nearing almost $1 Billion in total funding in the current budget proposal,” stated a spokesperson to the Daily Mail.


Lawmakers Want Cuts to Prison Spending

While Newsom may be maintaining that he doesn’t want to enforce budget cuts on prisons and that he won’t do it, California lawmakers appear to be all in favor of cutting spending in this area.

A black and white image of inside a prison with the cells covered in bars.

Emiliano Bar/Unsplash

This has been a long-term and progressive goal of these lawmakers. California has a massive prison system, and they want to cut down on it.


Tougher Sentences and Increased Penalties

While budget cuts to the police and prisons are still up in the air, it doesn’t make sense for them to do this because they are also considering making tougher sentences and increasing penalties for criminals.

A person's hand against some barbed wire.

Milad Fakurian/Unsplash

Not all crimes will experience these, as only a few are set to receive these stricter penalties. Some crimes that are included are selling fentanyl and engaging in serial retail theft. In both cases, it would mean spending more time in prison.


Delving into the Deficit

Governor Newsom initially pegged the deficit at $27.6 billion. 

Governor Gavin Newsom speaking at an outdoor event with a rainbow in the background, standing at a podium with a sign that reads "Investing in America,"

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Yet, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, the real figure might be closer to $45 billion, taking into account prior agreed-upon spending reductions.


Prioritizing the Climate

While the police and helping crime rates don’t appear to be a priority of Newsom’s one thing that he is prioritizing is pooling these resources into the fight against climate change.

A group protesting. Someone is holding up a sign that says, "There is no planet B" with an image of the Earth underneath it.

Li-An Lim/Unsplash

He has made sure to include $1.7 billion for climate initiatives and is focusing on equity.


Scaling Back on Education and Healthcare

The governor’s new budget proposal suggests cuts in critical areas like public education and healthcare.

Young children engaged in play on a colorful rug with various toys in a daycare setting, showcasing early childhood education and playtime activities

Source: BBC Creative/Unsplash

These cuts include pausing the expansion of state-funded child care and slashing funding aimed at Medicaid improvements, intending to save $6.7 billion.


10,000 Jobs Have Been Lost

One way that Newsom is trying to deal with California’s budget crisis is by cutting thousands of unfilled jobs in government. The estimated amount of job losses is 10,000.

A blue man sitting in an office chair with some building blocks on his desk that spell out "Fired."

Igor Omilaev/Unsplash

The hope is that by doing this, government will become much more streamlined and efficient at delivering the needs and wants of people from all over the Golden State.


Newsom at the National Forefront Amid Fiscal Struggles

As Governor Newsom navigates California through these financial difficulties, his actions are closely watched on the national stage. 

Governor Gavin Newsom presenting the state budget at a podium, with a large screen showing "Governor's Budget May Revision 2024-25"

Source: CAgovernor/X

A key ally of President Biden and a potential future presidential candidate, Newsom’s handling of the state’s budget crises, following years of surplus, could define his leadership and political future.