Could run into billions of dollars
While warning of an unstable economy and potential future liabilities from child sex assault claims that could range into the billions of dollars, Los Angeles County’s CEO has unveiled a $43 billion budget proposal for 2023-24 that was presented this week to the Board of Supervisors.
The spending plan includes investments in mental health services, homelessness programs and establishment of an Office of Constitutional Policing within the sheriff’s department. It also realizes the goal set by voter passage of Measure J in 2020–mandating that at least 10% of the county’s locally generated “unrestricted revenues” be dedicated to community service programs and alternatives to incarceration.
According to county CEO Fesia Davenport’s announcement Monday, the budget proposal dedicates $288.3 million to such programs, along with nearly $198 million more that will roll over from the current fiscal year, putting the 2023-34 total at about $486 million.
The budget proposal–which will be subject to months of public hearings and review before being finally adopted in October–dedicates $692 million toward efforts to combat homelessness. The amount includes more than $60 million for mental health services and 168 positions to provide them; a $100 million pot of money for development and preservation of affordable housing; and $25.5 million for “city-specific programs and services” with a primary goal of moving people out of homeless encampments and into housing, along with supportive services.
Overall, the $43 billion budget proposal represents a $1.6 billion drop from the current year’s budget, but it adds 514 new positions, bringing the overall county budgeted workforce to 114,106. The spending proposal includes $6.6 million and the addition of 24 non-sworn positions to establish an Office of Constitutional Policing in the sheriff’s department, to “oversee and monitor consent decrees, deputy gang issues, audit and investigations, compliance, risk management and policy development.” It also includes nearly $50 million in ongoing funding for improved conditions and mental health services in the jails to meet terms of a settlement with federal prosecutors.
“The recommended budget–the first step in the county’s multi-phase budget process–was developed against a backdrop of growing fiscal uncertainty, including a looming state budget deficit, a significant slowdown in local real estate transactions, and an unsettled economic environment in which recession remains a very real possibility,” Davenport wrote in her budget-transmittal letter to the Board of Supervisors.
Her message highlights are series of potentially significant impacts on the county’s budget, most notably potential liabilities from childhood sexual assault claims, which have expanded thanks to a state law extending the statute of limitations for filing of such claims. The county was recently sued by 300 people who claim they were abused as youths by county probation and detention officers while they were detained at juvenile facilities. But Davenport noted the problem extends well beyond that.