Interest groups that follow crime and justice issues in Washington are bracing for major funding-cut proposals in federal aid programs when the Bush administration budget for fiscal year 2006 is released next Monday. In an effort to cut the huge budget deficit, the White House probably will order a freeze on non-defense, non-homeland security domestic discretionary spending, says the National Criminal Justice Association.
The specifics will not be clear until Monday, although the president may give some hints in tonight’s State of the Union address. In that speech last year, he supported expanded federal programs to help inmates re-enter society. Congress appropriated little new money for that purpose last year, and it could be cut this coming year. Some Washington insiders say that the White House Office of Management and Budget wants to eliminate the newly consolidated Justice Assistance Grants program for states and localities, and the Community Oriented Policing Services Office (COPS) that was started by President Bill Clinton. Republican leaders in Congress do not single out crime issues in their top 10 legislative proposals for this year, but Democrats give high priority to continuing the Justice Assistance Grants and the COPS program. By one account, the Justice Department protested the OMB recommendation on grants and sought more than $450 million to continue the program.