The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $39.3 billion final budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 during Tuesday’s regular meeting.
The budget reflects a 7.8% increase from the recommended budget approved earlier this year, according to a report issued by the county Chief Executive Office.
Among the programs receiving additional funding was the Care First, Jails Last initiatives that support a wide range of community-based and justice reform efforts, receiving nearly a half-billion dollars in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
Of the $461.5 million going to Care First, Jails Last programs, funds are set to go to alternatives to incarceration, an anti-racism, diversity and inclusion initiative, a poverty-alleviation initiative, and the establishment of a jail-closure implementation team to decompress and close Men’s Central Jail.
The budget also reflects a focus on the Youth Justice Reimagined program, which is set to reimagine a county justice system that “centers on youth development and wellbeing,” with an additional $27.4 million in one-time funding being set aside to support the implementation of the Youth Development Department and its related needs for a total of $71 million.
The workgroup behind the Youth Justice Reimagined program had previously recommended bringing the county’s most violent juvenile offenders to Camps Scott and Scudder in Saugus, a decision currently on hold as the board awaits a report that explores all possible sites across the county rather than just the Saugus campuses. The board is expected to receive those reports in the coming weeks.
Additionally, $527 million in funding from the 2021-22 final budget is set to address homelessness, including $494 million from Measure H, to expand housing and services.
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, called the budget “remarkable.”
“I do remain committed to fiscal responsibility as a steward of public funds, and I believe we can continue to maintain prudence while still ensuring that the county provides the essential services for which millions of people rely upon each and every day,” Barger said.
Barger commended the CEO’s office in identifying funding to help combat the illegal cannabis grows in the Antelope Valley, including some in Acton and Agua Dulce, with around $4.9 million going to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department to enhance enforcement against water theft, illegal growers and illegal dispensaries.
“Illegal cannabis operations continue to threaten the well-being of our residents, water supply, and environment,” Barger said in a prepared statement regarding the matter. “By empowering and equipping our law enforcement partners with the resources they need, we can better protect our communities.”
Barger also commended the allocation of funds toward improving the response to residents suffering mental health crises, including funding five new Veteran Mental Health Evaluation teams, an additional $20 million toward the county’s Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams and $10 million for the county’s Crisis Call Center.
While the budget’s approval officially concludes the county’s annual three-part budget process, additional budget adjustments are set to continue, including the addition of $975 million from the first phase of American Rescue Plan stimulus funding intended to support a broad and equitable recovery across the county.