CURB sues to stop AB900

On Tuesday, May 6th Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)* filed a lawsuit to stop the $15 billion dollars of prison debt. At a time of desperate financial crisis, AB900 authorizes the state of California to borrow $7.5 billion to build 53,000 new prison and jail beds and pay double digit interest rates on the lease revenue bonds which it is using to finance the prison building binge. Each bed will cost $220,000 for construction alone and more billions will be needed to cover the cost of operating these new prisons.
The lawsuit argues that the $7.4 billion in lease revenue bonds violates the requirement in the California Constitution that all significant long term debts be approved by the voters. The suit also charges that the use of lease revenue bonds is irrational and wasteful since they cost much more than other types of bonds.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit held a press conference on the steps of the Capitol building in Sacramento. They include Dorsey Nunn, a member of All of Us Or None; Laura Magnani, from CURB, Dawn Williams, a public school teacher; Camilla Chavez from the Dolores Huerta Foundation; and Vanessa Huang from Justice NOW. The plaintiffs and their attorney Thomas Nolan pointed out that California has opened 23 prisons in the past 23 years and the prisons are more crowded than ever. Building more prisons will not fix California’s prison crisis. Members of CURB, wearing Schwarzenegger face masks, distributed invoices to the public reading “You owe $12 billion for more prisons!”
The press conference and activities were a big success and the Sacramento Bee, Univision, KQED, KPFA and the Capitol Community paper all covered the issue. We only hope that the interest that was generated by the filing of the lawsuit will lead to greater public awareness and support for the goal of stopping AB900!
*CCWP is a member of CURB and has been participating in the planning of the lawsuit.