Supervisor Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement after the Board of Supervisors passed the 2020-21 Supplemental Budget, which brought the County’s total budget to $37.6 billion:
“In March, in response to the global pandemic, the County Health Officer issued the Safer at Home Order, which upended our lives.
“Initially, many thought COVID-19 was an equalizer, but in time we came to see that the pandemic exacerbated disparities within our communities of color. In the First District, there have been over 72,000 cases and the rate of positivity among First District residents is high.
“The data is clear: low-income communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. While the virus does not discriminate based on race, the health and economic effects of COVID-19 are, in fact, racialized.
“With this knowledge, LA County’s response and recovery efforts must uplift our most vulnerable communities. Our approach to the pandemic must address these inequities in the long-term. Our residents deserve relief that bring about long-lasting and meaningful change.
“In response, the Board of Supervisors took immediate action to approve several motions that I authored, including: cancelling the penalty for late property tax payments for homeowners impacted by COVID-19; implementing and extending the County’s eviction moratorium to Oct. 31, 2020, which will support renters and landlords, alike; and passing a motion I co-authored with Chair Barger to freeze the County’s non-essential hiring and spending.
“And when the County received $1.22 billion in federal CARES Act funding to respond to the impacts of COVID-19, the County chose not to backfill Department budgets, but rather acted to ensure that much of the funding would be disbursed to help the public directly. This was accomplished through the approval of several proposals I had advocated for on behalf of my constituents, including:
- $100 million in small businesses grants;
- $60 million to help employers comply with worker protection requirements;
- $100 million for eviction defense and rent relief;
- $15 million for childcare for essential workers;
- $85 million for food assistance for struggling families and our seniors, and an additional $50 million for food gift cards;
- $30 million to expand our Promotoras program that will hire and train residents from our most impacted communities, primarily our Black and Latinx communities, to serve as a cultural bridge to help connect individuals to our healthcare agencies and County resources; and
- I strongly supported Supervisor Kuehl’s proposal for $12.8 million to provide computer devices and 12 months of internet service to support children who lack the necessary tools for distance learning.
“This past June, the County adopted a budget with an estimated $935.5 million deficit due to the COVID-19 crisis and 655 County employees were identified for layoffs. Since then, there have been improvements that have reduced our deficit to $661.8 million, and I am pleased we are able to avert all anticipated layoffs.
“The improvement to the County’s budget was due, in part, to $239 million the state provided in backfill for lost state revenue. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched our state and County budgets to their limits, Gov. Newsom has demonstrated his unwavering support to the residents of LA County with this funding, and I am grateful for his leadership.
“In addition, we also saw improvements in Proposition 172, the public safety sales tax, which helped to backfill some of the cuts made earlier to Public Safety Departments. The remainder of the deficit was addressed through operational efficiencies, curtailments, and the use of several one-time funding solutions.
“Today, we made supplemental adjustments to bring the fiscal year 2020-21 Final Adopted budget to $37.6 billion with 110,204 positions. While facing one of our toughest budget cycles in recent memory, it is critical that the County continues to provide essential services to our more than 10 million residents. I am pleased that many of the curtailments adopted in June are now being restored as a result of motions that I had either authored or co-authored, including:
- $20.7 million for the Youth@Work program, which is offered through the Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services. Youth@Work helps nearly 10,000 vulnerable youth get work experiences that lead them to entry-level jobs;
- the restoration of $310,000 to the Arts Internship Program;
- $1 million for the continuation of the LA Justice Fund, which gives undocumented immigrants access to legal defense by a non-profit legal service provider;
- $5.5 million for the Office of the Public Defender to avoid 34 layoffs and an additional $736,000 that had been slated to be cut in the Final Changes Budget, and
- $2.5 million to prevent 14 layoffs in the Office of the Alternate Public Defender.
“Most notably, the budget sets aside $72.3 million for the Alternative to Incarceration reserve. Additionally, last week, $15 million was identified in savings from the cancellation of the McCarthy contract for the Men’s Central Jail plan — which was cancelled with the approval of my Board motion in August 2019.
Of the $15 million savings, $13 million will be directed to the Office of Diversion and Re-entry (ODR), which brings the amount allocated in this budget to ODR to $30 million in one-time funding. The remaining $2 million will be allocated to the Alternative to Incarceration reserve. We know that this is a starting point, not an end point, and that more funding is needed.
“I also continue to strongly urge the full funding of the Restorative Care Village at LAC+USC and each of the County’s hospital campuses, which will build up the capacity of our clinical services to enrich our Alternative to Incarceration efforts. All of these investments get us closer to realizing a care first, jail last model.
“I am committed to advocating on behalf of First District and County residents while also maintaining the County’s fiscal stability in these uncertain times. Further, I thank the Interim CEO for identifying these funds that will directly benefit our most vulnerable residents: our young adults, justice-involved individuals, and immigrant families.”
Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org