Back in April, Governor Jerry Brown spoke to local law enforcement officials nervous about starting realignment without the money to pay for it. Relax, Brown told them:
Brown: "The realignment is not going into effect unless we get the money. And we're not gonna get the money unless the people vote for it."
Turns out realignment is going into effect without a vote of the people. Last week's state budget includes the money to fund it for the next year. But that funding is not constitutionally guaranteed, because a budget deal that would have included a special election fell through.
The Brown administration has no intention of letting the program go unfunded. Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate says he even thinks realignment opponents will change their tune.
Cate: "Now that it's the law, I think the question becomes, do you want to make sure that law enforcement has the funding to do the best job it can with the circumstances that we have."
Nielsen: "That's a hollow threat and I resent that implication."
That's Republican Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, one of realignment's fiercest critics. He says the program will have a disastrous impact on public safety by letting dangerous criminals out on the streets.
Nielsen: "They are the ones who are against law enforcement and public safety. He is the one who's - the blood will be on Secretary Cate's hands."
Nielsen says he'll do everything he can to de-fund and repeal realignment. Still, ask the counties if the lack of a funding guarantee bugs them, and you get the sense the answer is no. Paul McIntosh heads the California State Association of Counties:
McIntosh: "We're not concerned about today. The funds are there, I think, to get this program started, to make it successful. But over time is what we have to worry about, and we have time to make those corrections, to make those adjustments."
The governor has promised to seek a constitutional funding guarantee from voters - and McIntosh says counties believe he'll follow through.