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Proposed LA County budget spends more on health services


By City News Service

Los Angeles County’s CEO this week unveiled a $38.5 billion recommended budget for fiscal year 2022-23.

The recommendation is $807 million less than the current fiscal year’s adopted budget, but $2.3 billion more than last year’s recommended budget. Officials said the draft budget, which was presented to the Board of Supervisors for initial approval, is expected to increase as the county receives additional federal and state funding.

“This budget brings to life the policy vision established by the Board of Supervisors and sets a course for the county to strengthen the programs and services we provide to millions of residents each and every day,” County CEO Fesia Davenport said in a statement.

“That means continuing to respond vigilantly to an evolving pandemic, while also ramping up to launch new departments focused on key populations and driving major changes in how we deliver services,” she said. “It’s a dynamic time for Los Angeles County, and this recommended spending plan is intended to reflect that.”

The proposal foresees a positive economic outlook for the county, with property tax revenues expected to grow by 6 percent and sales tax revenues estimated to increase by nearly 8 percent.

However, Davenport, who said the county is “cautiously optimistic,” warned of challenges and uncertainties, including inflation, labor negotiations, continuing impacts from COVID-19, litigation and an unstable geopolitical climate affecting gas prices and global markets.

Generally, the budget recommendation is divided into $12.985 billion for health-related services; $9.597 billion for public assistance; $9.461 billion for public protection; $5.737 for general services and other costs; and $737 million for recreation and culture.

The Sheriff’s Department is recommended to receive approximately $3.6 billion, roughly the same as the current fiscal year.

The recommended budget also includes $493.3 million in Measure H funding to help with mental health resources and housing for people experiencing homelessness.

The budget recommendation includes funding for a total of 513 new positions, bringing the total number of county jobs to 111,551. Most of the new positions are focused on public health and safety net services, including 116 new public health positions, 196 new critical care unit nurses and 41 new “street medicine” clinic positions.

The recommended budget would also allocate $15.3 million for continued compliance with a federal consent decree governing conditions in the Men’s Central Jail, which the Board of Supervisors has committed to closing.

The proposal also includes $12.3 million to expand sheriff’s academy classes and train a “new generation of deputies,” while continuing moves to rely more on mental-health professionals to respond to some incidents rather than law enforcement.