Gov. Jerry Brown said Wednesday he plans to place on the November 2012 ballot a funding guarantee for prison realignment, the state's shift of responsibility for certain offenders to local government.
The framing of the measure, however and of any tax increase initiative that might accompany it remains unclear.
"I'm not leaving Sacramento until we get a constitutional guarantee," Brown told law enforcement and local government officials at the Sacramento Convention Center. "We'll get something on that ballot, and we'll do whatever it takes to get the constitutional protection, because public safety is the No. 1 responsibility of government."
Brown is expected to propose tax increases to voters next year, and the funding guarantee the governor is seeking could figure in that package.
Brown, a Democrat, told reporters he has not yet settled on a plan.
"There are a lot of groups working on it," he said. "It'll come together, but we've got a few months before we have to nail it down."
Funding for realignment was a central part of Brown's failed bid this year to extend higher taxes, an effort blocked by Republicans in the Legislature.
Asked about prospects for achieving the two-thirds vote necessary in the Legislature for a constitutional amendment, Brown said he "may have to do an initiative" instead.
"I'm not going to be stymied by minority opposition," Brown said. "We have to get the business of California done, and if we can't do it through the normal legislative process, thank God we have the initiative process, and that's the only thing that's left."
Brown's speech came less than two weeks before California's implementation of realignment, in which the state will shift responsibility for certain low-level offenders and parole violators to counties.
Though Brown said he will veto any bill to reduce existing realignment funding, law enforcement and local government officials want a constitutional amendment guaranteeing it, among other concerns. "Don't worry about the money," Brown said. "We'll get it to you one way or the other."
Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione, president of the California State Association of Counties, called realignment a "massive shift in responsibility."
Provided adequate funding, he said, "We have the potential, I believe, to do much good."
Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that offenders released under realignment will endanger public safety.
"It is not only irresponsible and bad public policy but quite frankly, it is extremely dangerous," Runner said in the statement.
"It is not only irresponsible and bad public policy but quite frankly, it is extremely dangerous."
SEN. SHARON RUNNER,
R-Lancaster, referring to the proposed prison realignment