DOJ Proposed FY2003 Budget for State/Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program

On February 4th, the Bush Administration released its proposed budget for FY 2003. The proposed budget for the Department of Justice is $30.2 billion, which is an increase of approximately 21% from the current funding level. However, despite this significant increase in the overall Department budget, funding levels for state and local law enforcement assistance programs has been significantly reduced. Under the proposed budget, the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) program and the Byrne Grant program would be combined into a new initiative entitled the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program. In the current FY 2002 budget, the combined funding level of the LLEBG program and the Byrne Grant program was $994 million. The proposed funding level under the JAG program is $800 million, a decrease of $194 million, or 20% decrease from the FY 2002 funding level. However, of the $800 million proposed under the JAG program, $95 million is set aside for use by various special programs (e.g.: $60 million for the use of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America). Therefore, as a result of these set asides the actual amount of assistance funds available to state and local law enforcement agencies under the JAG program is $705 million. According to Department of Justice staff, 54% ($380.7 million) of these remaining funds would be provided to states to distribute as they deem necessary; 46% ($324.3 million) would be available for distribution to local governments/agencies. (It should be noted that, at this point in time, no application process or authorized uses for this program have been established.) In addition to the consolidation and reduction of the LLEBG and Byrne Programs, the proposed budget for the COPS program will be significantly reduced. When compared to the current COPS office budget, the FY 2003 budget proposes a reduction of $543 million, or approximately 48%. This reduction is achieved by eliminating the law enforcement officer hiring grant program and by significantly reducing the funds available for crime fighting technologies. The proposed budget for the Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grant program also reflects a significant decrease. In FY 2002, the JAIBG program received $261 million. The proposed FY 2003 budget proposes a reduction in this program of $46 million. Additionally, the State Criminal Alien Assistance program, which reimburses states for a portion of the costs associated with the incarceration of criminal aliens, has been eliminated. In FY 2002 this program received $565 million. Also eliminated in the proposed budget was the Tribal prison construction program that received $35.2 million in FY 2002. Obviously, the IACP is greatly concerned over the scope and scale of the proposed reductions in these federal assistance programs. However, it is important to remember that this budget represents only the President’s proposal and not the final budget for FY 2003. As the federal budget process continues, the IACP will be working closely with members of the House and Senate to ensure that these programs are funded at a level that is acceptable to the state and local law enforcement community. Please let me know if you have any questions.