LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District, released the following statement after Congress passed a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that contains $900 billion in emergency COVID-19 relief:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a symptom of our system’s failures, of institutionalized racism, and of decades of too little investment in our public health. This is gravely reflected in the disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases in the First District which I represent, comprised primarily of working-class communities of color. In the First District alone, there have been over 164,000 positive cases of COVID-19 which represents approximately 26% of the countywide total – the most out of all five supervisorial districts.

Far too many residents face tough decisions during the pandemic: having to choose between putting food on the table and making rent, or going in to work at essential workplaces while leaving their children to navigate virtual school – often with no access to broadband or technological devices. All of these factors have put residents at greater risk of exposure and infection.

It’s been nine months since Congress passed the CARES Act, and here in Los Angeles County, I advocated for the County’s spending plan of these dollars to be allocated through an equity lens, prioritizing communities that have been underserved and underinvested for far too long.

While I am glad to see Congress finally act to provide some relief, the bill does not go far enough.

I appreciate that the bill will put stimulus money directly in the pockets of our residents, but the $600 stimulus check is simply not enough. And once again, this federal benefit is not available to people who are undocumented, some of whom have the greatest need, and who would be otherwise eligible if not for their status.

Furthermore, there is no direct funding for state or local jurisdictions, despite our role on the front lines. In Los Angeles County, prior to the pandemic, we estimated a surplus of approximately $400 million. Instead, we have a $661.8 million deficit this fiscal year due solely to the pandemic and the resulting revenue loss, and increased spending for the COVID response. We addressed the deficit by implementing an 8% curtailment in spending and using several one-time Departmental reserves. These were painful, but necessary decisions to ensure the County continues to deliver the safety net services that we alone are required to provide. Those one-time solutions, were exactly that, one time.

The County will need relief and support from the federal administration and the State to avoid further curtailments to spending, which includes staffing to deliver services.

Despite it all, there is much to be hopeful about. The vaccine is here, and more help is on the way. I know that President-elect Joe Biden will provide the leadership this country needs to help us get through this crisis together and that includes additional funding for Los Angeles County residents.”

This bill aligns with Los Angeles County priorities by funding: $8.75 billion for vaccine distribution, $22.4 billion for testing and contact tracing, $325 billion for small business aid, and $10 billion for childcare facilities, among several other provisions.