For release on January 9, 2023
As Governor Gavin Newsom prepares to release his 2023-24 California budget proposal, Public Health Advocates is sharing a set of priorities and proposals that would help form a strong budget for public health.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office predicts that this year’s state budget will be smaller than last year’s. Unlike the 2021-22 budget, which ended with a balance of $19 billion, the 2022-23 budget is projected to end with a balance of negative $1 billion. Revenues are forecasted to decline in coming years.
The financial crisis of 2008 led to large cuts in the public health workforce and infrastructure, making the COVID-19 pandemic response more challenging. Public Health Advocates is committed to implementing key lessons learned from the pandemic to ensure that the State of California spends money on effective public health solutions that move the entire state forward and avoid perpetuating racial, economic and health disparities.
In the area of housing and homelessness, Public Health Advocates proposes new investments in low-income housing and services to help unhoused people meet their basic needs, live with dignity and find housing.
“Failure to invest in solving this issue for decades has led to the current homelessness crisis, and now is not the time to relent on funding to reduce and prevent homelessness,” said Dr. Flojaune Cofer, director of state policy for Public Health Advocates.
Regarding public health infrastructure and the healthcare workforce, Public Health Advocates proposes maintaining level funding and ensuring we have enough medical providers in underserved areas. The pandemic’s harms have led to greater numbers of people in need of medical care and mental health services. We need to look out for the needs of children with a holistic approach that includes community-based supports such as access to parks and green space.
After the overturning of Roe V. Wade, California voters passed a constitutional right to contraception and abortion services. To truly make that a right, there is a need for greater affordability and access to these services.
“Especially in our most underinvested communities, there are shortages in medical and mental health professionals. Now is not the time to cut back on their funding.” Cofer said. “With the increased need for contraception and abortion services, that is an area where state funding needs to go up in the 2022-23 budget.”
Regarding public safety, Public Health Advocates proposes funding more alternative first response programs that empower individuals who are better suited to addressing certain situations than police, fire or EMT personnel. Oftentimes, a police response to a mental health crisis can lead to unnecessary trauma and arrests, when a social worker would be more helpful. Several California cities are implementing pilot programs to test out alternative response programs. However, state funding is limited to the $10 million attached to the CRISES Act, which became law in 2021.
“Having a trauma-informed alternative first response saves lives,” said Ryan McClinton, program manager for Public Health Advocates’ First Response Transformation Program. “The needs of our communities have evolved since our 9-1-1 emergency response system was formed in 1968, and we’ve also learned so much since then. It’s time to evolve our first response services.”
Public Health Advocates has also published a one-minute video summarizing our stance on the budget. For more information, please visit: www.phadvocates.org.
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