The Senate Committee on Governance and Finance approved Senate Bill 792, authored by Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, in a 7-0 vote. The bill seeks to establish a Measure B Oversight Commission to bring transparency and accountability to Los Angeles County’s administration of Measure B trauma tax revenues.
“I commend the committee for doing the right thing for the people of all of L.A. County,” said Wilk. “Measure B funds have not been distributed equitably and today’s vote underscores the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance’s support for accountability, transparency and equity in the disbursement of this money.”
In 2002 residents of Los Angeles County passed Measure B; a special use tax of 3-cents per square foot on real property improvements to rescue and revive the failing L.A. County trauma network. In good faith, the people of Los Angeles County entrusted the Board of Supervisors to direct these funds in such a way that would most effectively benefit trauma service countywide. Unfortunately for communities in underserved areas like the Antelope and San Gabriel valleys, the Board has failed to carry out this task effectively.
Currently the County allocates over 76 percent, or about $190 million, of funds to three county-run hospitals located in central Los Angeles, leaving a less than 15 percent to meet the trauma care needs of other regions.
Antelope Valley Hospital, the 15th busiest emergency room in the nation and L.A. County’s second busiest trauma center, sees 12 percent of LA County trauma and E.M.S. patients annually yet receives only one-half-of-one percent of Measure B funds per year. Similarly underserved are residents in the Malibu and East San Gabriel Valley regions where they went two full decades with no trauma service in the area. People in need of care were forced to travel long distances, often by helicopter during an emergency. This was not the voters’ intent when they approved Measure B.
“This legislation has sparked some interest at the Board of Supervisors level to reexamine the disbursement of these funds,” concluded Wilk. “My goal has always been to see accessible trauma service for all LA County and equity in how the tax dollars are distributed.”
“The Antelope Valley is treated like a donor region. Our hard earned tax dollars go to downtown L.A. and don’t return. The A.V. gets continually shortchanged on funds and services compared to communities down below,” said Wilk. “We put into the system and deserve healthcare, homeless services and road repairs just like people in Hollywood or Beverly Hills. This bill is a small but significant step in that direction.”