Los Angeles County’s $36.2 billion Recommended Budget, focused on expanding and sustaining extensive safety net services, will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, by Chief Executive Officer Fesia Davenport.
The spending blueprint, the first step in the annual budget process, is built on the leaner baseline and extensive cuts established in the 2020-21 budget cycle and does not propose any layoffs or furloughs.
The Recommended Budget is intended to provide the Board with a dynamic spending plan that funds key priorities and keeps service levels strong, while also ensuring the flexibility to respond to the continuing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
“The pandemic has exposed and increased the gap between the haves and have-nots in Los Angeles County,” Davenport said. “This budget seeks to address that by expanding safety net services to the most vulnerable, while also supporting the County’s equity-focused programs and initiatives as we move toward recovery. Our goal is to make Los Angeles County a more just and equitable place for all our residents—by not just rebuilding, but actually becoming better than before.”
Key investments include:
– Combatting and preventing homelessness with an additional $16.6 million to fund Measure H strategies, for a total of $426.7 million. Proposed focus areas include increasing and sustaining the supply of interim housing beds and motel vouchers; streamlining the bed reservation system for interim housing; and increased funding for Permanent Supportive Housing services.
– Addressing COVID-19’s parallel crisis in mental health by adding $9.8 million and 300 positions to the Promotores de Salud Mental Health Program—nearly quadrupling staffing for this vital community-based outreach and education program.
– Adding $29.9 million to expand mental health crisis and intervention services—corresponding to a sharp increase in need during the pandemic, including a 30% spike in calls to the Department of Mental Health Helpline.
Setting aside a $100 million “down payment” for the first year in the three-year ramp-up to fund direct community investments and alternatives to incarceration under Measure J. The “care first, jails last” initiative, approved by voters last November, will be fully implemented by June 30, 2024, as specified in the measure. This $100 million investment is the largest single allocation for a new program in the Recommended Budget.
The Recommended Budget reflects a decrease of $2.1 billion over the previous year, primarily due to the end of one-time funding from sources including the federal CARES Act. (An in-depth look at the County’s $1.22 billion in CARES Act allocations and outcomes is here).
The Recommended Budget, to be presented to the Board on Tuesday, is expected to evolve and include additional detail about programs and available funding in the months ahead. For example, the County anticipates receiving $1.9 billion in American Rescue Act funding, with the first installment expected to arrive in May. The Chief Executive Office is currently working with the Board of Supervisors on recommended allocations in the following proposed areas:
Health: Sustained COVID-19 response prioritizing the most heavily impacted.
Economic Recovery: Building an equity-focused bridge to recovery.
Equity Investments: Systemic and infrastructure improvements to build a County that is “better than before.”
Sustainability & Preparedness: Supporting our fiscal future by restoring losses and preparing for the next emergency.
The Recommended Budget is the first step in the County’s months-long budget cycle, which moves next to public hearings in May, followed by what are known as “Final Changes” budget deliberations in June. The process concludes with adoption of the Supplemental Budget in October.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, issued the following statement:
“(Tuesday’s) budget presentation by CEO Fesia Davenport is an important reminder of the County’s role to provide essential services for millions of residents, and support for thousands of businesses and organizations, across the region. The demand for County services, such as food, housing, and health and mental health care, in conjunction with the increase in unemployment and homelessness, is staggering.
“While I am pleased that today’s budget presentation illustrated we can maintain our level of services without layoffs, furloughs or programmatic decreases, the County’s financial situation is still fluid and we do not yet know the full economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we are unaware of the impact of allocating Measure J dollars to unknown programs and whether that could decrease available funding for existing services.
“I am eager to see a more comprehensive budget presented by the Chief Executive Office when the Board of Supervisors begins budget deliberations in May and June. I am hopeful that our financial health will remain and enable our Board to continue to provide essential services while also saving toward our ‘Rainy Day’ Fund – which proved crucial in the last year.”