Los Angeles County Chief Executive Officer Fesia Davenport is scheduled to present a $38.5 billion recommended budget to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
In a press briefing Monday, the CEO said county departments had submitted nearly $2.5 billion in unmet needs requests for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Of those requests, $564 million was recommended for funding, $603 million was deferred for later consideration and nearly $1.3 billion remains unfunded. Davenport’s spending blueprint is, she said, the first step in the annual budget process. It builds on lessons that the county learned during the past two years and makes full use of federal and state funds to jumpstart the county’s recovery.
“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,” Davenport said. “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. It’s a dynamic time for Los Angeles County, and this recommended spending plan is intended to reflect that.”
One focus of the $38.5 billion budget, Davenport said, is bringing four new county departments online. Those include the Justice, Care and Opportunities Department, the Youth Development Department, the Aging and Disabilities Department, and the Department of Economic Opportunity.
“Each new department reflects the board’s vision to strengthen the county’s organizational structure by consolidating work and efforts currently scattered across multiple entities in the county,” she said. “We want more efficient and more effective services leading to better outcomes.”
The Justice, Care and Opportunities Department, Davenport said, will eventually become the home of many county programs and services designed to prevent people’s involvement with law enforcement, justice and carceral systems. The Youth Development Department will house programs and provide services and interventions designed to keep them out of the juvenile justice, justice and carceral systems.
The Aging and Disabilities Department, Davenport continued, will address the rapidly aging and growing population, consolidating programs and services to go under one roof. And the Department of Economic Opportunity will focus on strengthening the economic sector in the county by attracting more jobs to the area, while also focusing on developing and preparing county residents for employment.
Another key recommendation, according to a county release, includes prioritizing the county’s fight against homelessness through the mobilization of mental health resources and provision of more housing alternatives to move people off the street. This will be facilitated by $493.3 million in Measure H monies plus Mental Health Services Act funding.
Davenport will also recommend fortifying the county’s system of hospitals and health centers by budgeting 116 new public health positions, 196 new critical care unit nurses and 41 new positions in support of mobile “street medicine” clinics, among other significant commitments.
Protecting and empowering youth is another recommendation, which would occur through a series of investments, including $22.8 million to meet increased demand for full-time child care for CalWORKs families, $15.7 million for the Youth@Work jobs program and $14.1 million for Department of Children and Family Services medical hub services.
The board will also consider continuing its commitment to closing Men’s Central Jail while also protecting the rights of those who remain in custody, with a suggested $15.3 million allocation to support compliance with the federal consent decree governing conditions in the jail.
And the board will decide on whether to set aside $12.3 million to expand Sheriff’s Academy classes and train a new generation of sheriff’s deputies — part of a balanced approach to public safety that also includes preparations to launch a new 988 Alternative Crisis Response system that relies on mental health professionals rather than law enforcement, according to the county release.
According to the release, the recommended county budget reflects a decrease of $807 million from the 2021-22 final adopted budget, but it’s likely to grow in upcoming budget phases to reflect anticipated one-time federal and state funding. The current total represents an increase of more than $2.3 billion over last year’s recommended budget.
The recommended budget is the first step in the county’s months-long budget cycle, Davenport said, which will next move to public hearings in May. Budget deliberations will take place in June.
The process concludes with adoption of the supplemental budget in October.