Securing the money has long been a top priority for California, which will receive about $65.8 million after a rare alliance between the two most populous red and blue states.

By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times
November 16, 2 2011

Reporting from Washington— California and Texas lawmakers formed a rare alliance to secure $240 million in federal funds to pay for jailing illegal immigrants despite a congressional drive to reduce Washington’s red ink.

After a House subcommittee proposed eliminating federal reimbursements for state prisons and local jails that incarcerate about 300,000 convicted illegal immigrants nationwide, lawmakers from the two most populous blue and red states formed a rare alliance to preserve the money.

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Securing the jail funding has long been one of California’s top priorities in Washington.

California is expected to receive about $65.8 million, about $22 million less than anticipated, according to a state Department of Finance spokesman. But California officials in Washington expressed relief, given the earlier proposal. The money represents only a fraction of the more than $938 million in annual state costs of incarcerating illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, state officials said.

The jail funding is included in a spending bill approved by House-Senate negotiators that would prevent a government shutdown this weekend. The overall bill gives lawmakers until mid-December to complete work on spending bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. It also would set funding levels for the year for a number of programs.

No money is provided for high-speed rail, a reflection of growing uneasiness in Congress over the cost of such projects as a proposed California bullet train. A California High-Speed Rail Authority spokeswoman said the agency wasn’t anticipating federal funding before 2014. But the lack of federal funding for fiscal 2012 could spell trouble in future years. “High-speed rail funding is a luxury at a time when federal dollars are scarce,” said House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hinge.

Money for the community development block grant, a key funding source for local efforts to generate jobs, revitalize run-down neighborhoods and help low-income residents, also was cut.

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