Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones and Supervisor Phil Serna squared off this week during a budget hearing as Serna tried to divert $250,000 from Jones’ concealed weapons permit budget to fund a family services program.
The clash of priorities came weeks into a feud between Serna and Jones over the sheriff’s support of Donald Trump in the presidential race, though Serna said the two issues had nothing to do with one another.
Serna wanted to direct about $250,000 away from the sheriff’s budget to pay for Birth and Beyond Family Resource Centers, which provides home visitation and counseling for pregnant women and parents with children up to age 17. That amount is roughly what it costs the county to administer concealed weapons permits after fees from permit holders.
The number of concealed weapons permits issued in Sacramento County has soared under Jones, from 350 when he took office to nearly 8,000 now. He’s limited to charging $100 per permit by law, plus the cost of fingerprinting. That fee covers less than half the cost to the department, so the county foots the bill for the rest.
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“I just respectfully disagree with the magnitude of the issuance (of permits) to date,” Serna said as he made the motion. “I think it’s a logical place to look, especially given the fact that we’re otherwise looking at cutting, or potentially presenting a risk to alcohol and drug treatment as well as relying on the assumptions about foster care.”
...to somehow identify that this is the very same $200,000 that can give benefits to children, I believe, is a bit disingenuous and politically motivated.
Sheriff Scott Jones in response to a proposal to shift funding from concealed weapons permits to a parenting program for low-income families
Jones, a Republican candidate in California’s 7th congressional district, said he views the concealed carry permit program as a mandate necessary to protect residents. He said if the $250,000 was taken out of his budget, he would cut his spending elsewhere to continue administering the program.
“In all candor, I find this a bit disingenuous to latch this $200,000 from the (concealed carry weapon permit) program to the welfare of children and foster children with a $3.8 billion budget and a half-billion dollars of discretionary funding,” Jones said, referring to a smaller amount than Serna proposed. “But to somehow identify that this is the very same $200,000 that can give benefits to children, I believe, is a bit disingenuous and politically motivated.”
Serna’s motion to pull the money was ultimately rejected 3-2. Serna and Patrick Kennedy, two Democrats who live in the city of Sacramento, voted for the motion. Susan Peters, Roberta MacGlashan and Don Nottoli, who represent suburban districts, voted against, though they said they intended to approve Birth and Beyond funding through other means.
Serna has repeatedly attacked Jones ever since the sheriff announced in May he would vote for Trump in the upcoming presidential election. Serna, a Democrat, has criticized Jones on social media and wrote an op-ed in The Sacramento Bee, calling Jones’ Trump position “offensive.” He also gathered signatures for a petition calling on Jones to retract his support for the presumptive Republican nominee.
Jones is in a competitive race against incumbent Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, that is being closely watched by national party leaders.
A number of people spoke in support of Birth and Beyond during the public comment section of Tuesday’s budget hearing. The resource centers provide a variety of services aimed at preventing child abuse through in-home parent education, crisis intervention and school readiness programming.
The program will remain funded after county staff cobbled together several other funding sources to fill a $700,000 budget gap in Birth and Beyond, whose total budget is $2.5 million.
I just want to go on the record as saying politics plays no role in what I just did.
Supervisor Patrick Kennedy on his vote to shift funding from concealed weapons permits to a parenting program for low-income families
Supervisors approved moving $223,000 from the Sacramento Metropolitan Cable Television Commission to Birth and Beyond. Another $60,000 was already budgeted for additional evaluations of new families to determine what services they need. The rest of the money comes from a county estimate of reduced foster care needs because families that are successful in Birth and Beyond do not end up in the system. Staff estimated there could be as many as 20 fewer foster care cases per month.
That approval came as the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $3.9 billion spending plan to be in place until the final budget is completed and approved in September.
Kennedy seconded Serna’s motion to move the $250,000, saying he was surprised at how much the permits cost the county. He said he doesn’t see the funding transfer as a cut because programs like Birth and Beyond, the early intervention drug court and behavioral health programs keep people out of the criminal justice system.
Kennedy said he and Jones will have to agree to disagree over the notion that issuing more concealed carry permits makes the the community safer.
“As far as the charge of political motivation, I somewhat resent that,” he said. “I just want to go on the record as saying politics plays no role in what I just did.”