OFFICE OF FISCAL ANALYSIS
Legislative Office Building, Room 5200
Hartford, CT 06106 ↓ (860) 240-0200
AN ACT CONCERNING GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND CHILDREN'S SAFETY.
OFA Fiscal Note
The bill results in a cost to the state of approximately $200,000 - $300,000 in FY 13, $8.6 million - $9.6 million in FY 14, and $7.3 million in FY 15 as it (1) establishes new regulations and restrictions on firearms and ammunition, (2) expands mental health services and coordination, 3) enhances school safety standards and funding, and 4) imposes stricter penalties involving crimes committed with a firearm or the transfer of a firearm illegally.
The most significant fiscal impacts are summarized below:
• Authorization of $15 million in General Obligation Bonds, which will result in future debt service costs of $22.9 million;
• Costs to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) of between $200,000 - $300,000 in FY 13, $2.2 million - $3.2 million in FY 14 and $695,000 beginning in FY 15 related to safety and security audits, enhanced background check and permitting requirements, and developing and maintaining a new registry of persons convicted of committing a crime with a deadly weapon;
• Costs to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) of approximately $4.6 million in FY 14 and $4.0 million beginning in FY 15 related to expansion of mental health services and developing a database of voluntary admissions;
• Costs to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) of $1.8 million beginning in FY 14 to implement a regional behavioral health consultation and care coordination program for pediatricians; and
• Costs to the Department of Correction (DOC) of up to $760,000 in both FY 15 and FY 16 and up to $25.3 million beginning in FY 17 associated with increased sentencing requirements. These figures include fringe benefit costs.
Below is a section-by-section analysis of the bill. The three main areas covered are Firearms Related (sections 1 - 63), Mental Health Services and Coordination (64 – 79), and School Security and Safety (80 – 99).
Sections 1 - 5, and Sections 14 – 17 increase both costs and revenues to DESPP. Sections 1 – 5 establish an eligibility certificate for the transfer of a long gun and require background checks for long gun sales. Sections 14 - 17 establish an eligibility certificate for the purchase of ammunition. DESPP is anticipated to incur costs of approximately $200,000 to $300,000 in FY 13 to develop and implement systems required to comply with the new eligibility certificates and background check requirements. Additionally, DESPP is expected to incur estimated annual Personal Services costs of $250,000 (plus fringe benefit costs of $86,000) beginning in FY 14 to administer the eligibility certificate process and systems. These costs will be offset, at least in part, by the $35 fee for such permits. Section 1 also makes violations of provisions regarding long guns an offense. To the extent that offenders are prosecuted under this provision, potential costs for incarceration or probation supervision in the community would result. On average, it costs $50,690 to incarcerate an offender and $4,968 (including fringe benefits) to supervise an offender on probation in the community.
Sections 8, 10, 11, 57 and 58 will result in a cost to DMHAS associated with receiving, maintaining, and reporting information on certain individuals who are voluntarily admitted to a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities. One-time costs of at least $600,000 are estimated in FY 14 to establish an electronic record system, and ongoing costs of at least $45,000 per year (beginning in FY 14) for staff as well as potential costs for system maintenance are anticipated. Costs to DMHAS are dependent on how the information would be provided and maintained and the number of individuals who will be voluntarily admitted. DMHAS does not currently receive this information. The costs for the current process for mandated commitments are estimated at $600,000 for the development of an electronic record system and $45,000 to support a staff person (Medical Records Clerk or similar position). It is likely that the number of voluntary admissions exceed the number of civil commitments, which would result in additional costs to DMHAS.
Sections 6, 7, 9, 12, and 13 make technical changes that have no fiscal impact.
Sections 18 - 22 establish a registry of persons convicted of committing a crime with a deadly weapon and task DESPP with managing the registry. DESPP is expected to incur costs between $500,000 and $1.5 million in FY 14 for the creation of the registry depending on its structure and operational requirements. Additionally, DESPP is anticipated to incur costs of approximately $250,000 annually to operate and maintain the database beginning in FY 14.
Sections 23 - 32 ban certain firearms, ammunition, and ammunition magazines and make technical changes to existing bans. There is a minimal cost to DESPP arising from the requirement that persons possessing high capacity ammunition magazines prior to the effective date declare their possession of the magazines with DESPP. Section 32 also creates a new offense of knowingly transporting a firearm with an armor piercing bullet. This is not anticipated to result in a fiscal impact. In the past three years, a similar current offense of knowingly distributing or transporting ammunition that is armor piercing has resulted in only one violation of this offense and the case was dismissed.
Sections 33 - 41 include ammunition among the items that the state can seize by court order and make changes to the process of transferring firearms and ammunition when a person becomes ineligible to possess them. These changes have minimal fiscal impact to DESPP.
Sections 42 - 50 and 53 result in a potential cost to DOC of up to $760,000 in both FY 15 and FY 16 and up to $25.3 million in FY 17 and future fiscal years. The sections makes various changes, including imposing mandatory minimum sentences for several crimes, increasing the penalties for several crimes, and classifying previously unclassified felonies. These figures include fringe benefit costs.
To the extent that sentence lengths increase based on changes in the bill, due to increases in classification of crimes, the DOC would incur costs due to increased prison population because of longer sentences. By upgrading the classification of certain offenses, the court has the discretion to increase sentence length significantly. The maximum impact of the changes could be approximately 4%, or a 500 person increase in the sentenced prison population. The increase in the prison population is generally driven by increased sentences, which reduces the number of offenders leaving prisons, as opposed to increases in population due to more offenders entering the system.
On average, it costs $139 (including fringe benefits) a day to house an inmate. The full annual cost to the DOC is up to $25.3 million, depending on the extent to which sentences for the crimes covered under the bill are increased. The size of the fiscal impact is dependent on the extent to which sentencing behavior changes. In addition, the fiscal impact of the increased sentencing classifications will not be realized until FY 17 due to the current average sentencing lengths for the affected crimes.
Based on the sentences of the current population, most inmates convicted of the specified crimes with new minimum mandatory sentences under the bill have sentences that meet or exceed the new minimum mandatory sentences. However, based on the current average, offenders convicted under CGS 29-36 would face longer sentences. The new minimum mandatory sentence could increase the prison population starting in FY 15 by roughly 15 inmates due to longer sentences. On average, it costs $139 a day to house an inmate. The annual cost to the DOC is up to $760,000 for an additional 15 inmates.
The bill also creates minimum fines associated with the offenses specified. However this is not anticipated to result in a fiscal impact as these offenses currently do not have associated fine revenue.
Sections 51, 52, 54, 55, and 56 make technical changes that have no fiscal impact.
Sections 57 and 58 limit prospective applicants for temporary pistol permits to applying in their town of residence once per year, a change that has no fiscal impact beyond the cost to DMHAS identified above.
Section 59 eliminates the effect of risk reduction earned credits on parole eligibility for certain violent offenders and will result in a potential cost to the Department of Correction. Under current legislation, certain offenders are eligible for parole upon completion of 85% of their sentences, less any risk reduction credits. The bill eliminates the effect that risk reduction credits have on parole eligibility; meaning that offenders must serve 85% of their sentences, regardless of risk reduction credits before becoming eligible for parole. While the bill does not change the effect that risk reduction credits have on offenders' end of sentence, it changes how long inmates remain in the facility as opposed to under supervision in the community. On average, it costs the agency $6,050 (including benefits) to supervise an inmate in the community as opposed to 50,690 (including benefits) to incarcerate an offender. While the extent to which the bill will increase the amount of time offenders serve in prison is unknown, any changes to the amount of time inmates remain incarcerated will affect DOC costs.
Sections 60 and 61 modify the composition of the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners and the process by which it hears appeals, which results in a minimal cost to the Board associated with the addition of two board members.
Section 62 requires DESPP to study the feasibility of establishing and maintaining an electronic system to register and track firearm sales and permits. The study itself, results in a minimal fiscal impact; however, the fiscal impact of implementing such a system is dependent upon the outcome of DESPP's feasibility study.
Section 63 appropriates $1 million in FY 14 to DESPP for the statewide firearms trafficking task force.
Mental Health Services and Coordination
Section 64 is not anticipated to result in a cost to SDE to assist and encourage local and regional boards of education to include mental health first aid training as part of their in-service training programs.
Section 65 is also not anticipated to result in a fiscal impact to SDE.
Section 66 may result in a cost of less than $1,000 in FY 14 to agencies participating in the task force to reimburse legislators and agency staff for mileage expenses.
Section 67 results in an annual cost to DMHAS of $3 million to support three assertive community treatment (ACT) teams to provide behavioral health services in three cities of the state. Costs support multidisciplinary health staff that work in mobile teams to deliver individual, client-specific care.
Section 68 results in an annual cost to DMHAS of up to $1 million associated with care management and coordination services for up to 100 individuals with mental illness who are involved in the Probate Court System. Costs are associated with up to five contracted staff to deliver services for up to 100 clients.
Section 69 results in an annual cost of approximately $1.8 million to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) associated with requiring the agency to implement a regional behavioral health consultation and care coordination program for primary care providers (PCP) who serve children. This estimate is based on contract expenses to provide a full-time child psychiatrist, a full-time social worker, a full-time care coordinator and a part-time administrator for each of three regions covering approximately 270,000 children each (at a total cost of $1.5 million). In addition to the costs for each of these three regions, costs of $175,160 for three part-time contract positions focusing on the statewide performance of the program are anticipated. These positions include (1) a part-time child psychiatrist to provide medical direction of the program and (2) a part-time program manager to oversee region performance with the technical support of (3) a part-time data analyst who will track PCP consultations, training and education interactions as well as patient care coordination and transitional services provided. This estimate also includes indirect expenses associated with the program of $102,391 or 6% of the direct program expenses.
Sections 70 - 77 concern private health insurance coverage of behavioral health services. There is no state or municipal fiscal impact.
Sections 78 and 79 require the Department of Insurance to review data, and make a presentation and report to the General Assembly by January 1, 2014. The department will incur minimal administrative costs to meet these requirements.
School Security & Safety
Section 80 establishes the School Safety Infrastructure Council and will not result in a state cost except to the extent Council members receive mileage reimbursement for attending meetings.
Section 81 adds the review of local school construction applications for compliance with any newly developed school safety standards and results in no cost to SDE or the Department of Construction Services (DCS) as the agencies currently have staff reviewing applications.
Section 82 requires school districts to utilize the standards of the School Safety Infrastructure Council in future school construction projects and results in a significant future cost to the state and local and regional school districts due to anticipated increased school construction requirements. The cost would be dependent upon the standards adopted and how such standards differed from future plans by the school districts. There are approximately 1,200 public schools in the state.
Section 83 modifies current model blueprints for new school building projects and will not result in a cost to DCS as the expertise exists in-house to revise the model blueprints. Model blueprints comply with industry standards for school buildings and the new blueprints will incorporate the school security standards.
Section 84 will not result in a cost to SDE, DCS or DESPP as the combined expertise of the agencies is sufficient to carry out the grant program. Section 85 of the bill includes bond funds to support the grant program. Additionally, local and regional school districts receiving the grant would incur a revenue gain based on the grant program set forth in this section of the bill. These grants only provide for a partial reimbursement of the entire local project cost.
Section 85 authorizes $15 million in General Obligation (GO) bonds to SDE in FY 13. The debt service cost for this amount at a 5% interest rate for a term of 20 years is $22.9 million, which includes $7.9 million in interest and $15 million in principal.
Section 86 results in a cost of $75,000 to DESPP to develop school security and safety plan standards. The standards developed by DESPP will serve as a guide for school districts to use in the creation of the school-specific security and safety plans required in section 87.
Section 87 is anticipated to result in no cost to local and regional school districts as most districts have existing plans and would only have to modify them. However, should the new standards for school safety and security greatly exceed those currently in place, local and regional school districts may incur minimal cost increases.
Section 88 increases the administrative duties of existing safe school climate committees and results in no fiscal impact to local and regional school districts.
Section 89 which increases the frequency and the number of recipients of SDE's analysis of local bullying prevention efforts results in no fiscal impact as the agency already produces such analysis.
Section 90 requires DMHAS to administer a mental health first aid training program. The department currently contracts with providers for such services. The program is supported by federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funds and is free for participants. The direct cost associated with a standard training is approximately $2,150 and supports 20 students, one paid instructor (and one volunteer instructor). Training for 166 district safe school climate coordinators would require approximately 8 classes totaling $17,845. If this requirement exceeds the existing federal resources, DMHAS could incur additional costs.
Section 90 also allows local and regional boards of education to require teachers and other staff to participate in mental health first aid training. This is not anticipated to result in a cost to local and regional boards of education, as various training programs and resources are available through DMHAS. To the extent that local and regional school districts do not utilize existing DMHAS programs, they may incur participation costs.
Section 91 results in a cost to DESPP of $25,000 in FY 14 to establish and publish an on-line registry of school security consultants operating in the state and an ongoing cost of $5,000 to maintain such registry.
Section 92 results in no cost to the constituent units of higher education as the units have existing staff with the expertise to update security protocol plans and the ability to establish threat assessment teams.
Section 93 is procedural with regard to the hiring authority of campus police officers and results in no fiscal impact.
Section 94 results in no cost to the Board of Regents for Higher Education as existing personnel have the expertise to assess the need for the establishment of a special police force for each regional community-technical college.
Section 95 results in a cost to the regional community–technical colleges for security personnel that are armed and currently not certified by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council to become certified. The cost per person is $1,770.
Section 96 results in a cost to DESPP of approximately $190,000 (plus fringe benefits costs of $66,000) to hire 3 positions in FY 14. The cost is related to the conducting of safety and security audits on Connecticut's 22 public college campuses.
Section 97 is technical and results in no fiscal impact.
Sections 98 and 99 cancel a General Obligation bond authorization for $3 million to SDE for school security infrastructure. This will result in debt service saving of $4.6 million (principal plus interest) in future years.
The Out Years
The annualized ongoing fiscal impact is described above and would continue into the future subject to inflation.
The preceding Fiscal Impact statement is prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for the purposes of information, summarization and explanation and does not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.