County Takes Several Hits In Governor's Proposed Budget, Reaction Swift
A summary provided by Los Angeles County shows that approximately half of the Governor’s proposed cuts fall directly on county health and human services programs.
The proposed budget projects a deficit of $4.1 billion in the current year and $5.1 billion in fiscal 2012-13 for a total deficit of $9.2 billion through June 30, 2013.
Don't miss a thing. Get breaking news alerts delivered right to your inbox
Brown’s plan includes two main elements, the first being expenditure reductions of $4.2 billion (health and human services $2.0 billion; education and child care $1.3 billion, repeal or suspension of state-mandated programs $828.3 million and other miscellaneous program reductions of $27.3 million) and the second, a ballot initiative that would revive a temporary half-cent increase in state sales and use tax that had expired in July 2011.
The initiative would also impose a temporary income tax increase for persons earning more than $250,000 a year. If approved by the voters in November, the temporary increases are projected to provide $4.4 billion to the state’s General Fund (after Prop. 98 adjustments). The measure also includes constitutional protection for the 2011 Public Safety Realignment funding for counties.
The proposed $1.4 billion reduction to CalWORKS could result in a reduction of benefits to approximately 179,000 families in the County. The $163.8 million reduction to In Home Supportive Services would impact about 254,000 recipients statewide, with 105,000 of those in LA County.
The proposal includes a $842 million reduction in Medi-Cal by merging service delivery for persons eligible for both Medi-Cal and Medicare and requiring all eligible persons to enroll in managed care health plans.
$3.8 million in child support collected by the county would be suspended under the Governor’s proposal; there would be a $14.5 million reduction from increasing the client share of cost for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program and there would be a $293.6 reduction by eliminating CalWORKS benefits for families who fail to meet Federal work participation requirements.
Juvenile justice housing would shift from the state to counties, for which the state would provided $10 million in assistance to plan for the shift. Redevelopment agencies would be dissolved on February 1, shifting approximately $1.05 billion in additional property tax revenue to K-12 schools in this fiscal year, offsetting the state’s Prop. 98 General Fund obligations. Additional property tax revenues are estimated to provide $340 million for counties, $220 million for cities and $170 million for special districts.
If the ballot initiative fails, $5.4 billion in triggered budget cuts would occur, becoming effective Jan. 1, 2013 and impacting education, courts and state public safety programs. Specifically, the cuts include:
- $4.8 billion reduction to K-12 schools and community colleges
- $400 million reduction to UC and CSUs
- $125 million reduction to the courts, which equates to closing court three days a month
- $15 million reduction to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, impacting firefighting capabilities, including emergency air response
- $6.6 million reduction in flood control programs reducing channel and levee maintenance and reductions to the California Departments of Parks and Recreation and Fish and Game, and the elimination of state lifeguards.
Reaction to the Governor’s announcement came fast and furiously Thursday afternoon.
From LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich:
“By asking voters to consider tax increases even as the state’s economy remains stalled by slow growth and high unemployment, Governor Brown is saddling a dead horse to ride California into prosperity. Threatening Draconian cuts in public safety and education is the typical scare tactic used by politicians who fail to restrain the state bureaucracy through consolidation and reform.”
“Although we are still assessing the budget proposal impacts, it was at least reassuring to hear the Governor reaffirm his commitment to placing an initiative before voters that includes secure and permanent funding to operate the programs shifted to local government under realignment,” said William T Fujioka, Los Angeles County Chief Executive Officer.
State budget decisions have negatively affected Los Angeles County programs and services by over $1.4 billion in the last four years, including $878.5 million in losses due to program reductions, $365 million from the State borrowing local property tax revenue, and $187 million in payment deferrals.
“The legislative priority expressed by our Board of Supervisors could not be clearer,” said Fujioka. “Our County leaders appreciate the State’s financial position and the difficult decisions the Governor and the Legislature may be forced to make in the months ahead, but it is important the State continues to understand that additional funding reductions to local government will continue to compromise the County’s ability to sustain far-sighted budgeting while still meeting the increased demand for services in an economy that continues to struggle.”
State Senator Sharon Runner issued the following statement on the Governor’s Budget:
“California is an innovative state whose entrepreneurs create jobs when the government stops getting in the way. Sadly, while many successful companies start here, too many are forced to leave due to high taxes and overregulation. These employers need to have the confidence that their company will have a fair chance of succeeding if they spend the money to hire people off the unemployment rolls.
“Increasing taxes does nothing to encourage the creativity and enterprise of employers. Elected officials must foster a business friendly climate to create jobs, not one that drains businesses of their hard-earned revenues,” she concluded.
Addressing the drastic cuts in education funding, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson:
“The Governor has offered us a difficult but clear plan to address the challenges we face. Even as it seeks to protect our schools from new across-the-board cuts, the budget lays out the stark choices that come with difficult times. The proposed reductions to child care, to social services, and to schools serving the blind and deaf would cause real harm to children and families who need and deserve our help.
“Because everyone has a stake in our public schools, we all have a responsibility to be sure they have the resources to provide every child with a world-class education,” he said. “The budget also makes it clear that meeting that obligation will require additional tax revenues—both to prevent new cuts and to finally turn the tide after years of devastating reductions to school budgets statewide.”