Newsom’s Budget Cuts Threaten Jobs and Health Safety Programs

Newsom's Budget Cuts Threaten Jobs and Health Safety Programs

On Friday, Governor Newsom revealed that he is planning to address a significant budget shortfall of around $28 billion.

To this end, he proposes to cut more than $32 billion from one-time expenses and ongoing spending over the next couple of years.

Additionally, he proposes to cut down $300 million from ongoing funding for state and local public health departments in the upcoming budget year.

Also, over $52 million would be slashed from the current year’s funding allocated to a program known as the “Future of Public Health.”

Public health leaders expressed their concern over the proposal and described it as a “devastating” and “a step backward.”

Michelle Gibbons, executive director of the County Health Executives Association of California said “California cannot go back to neglecting public health.”

He further added, “We must continue to rebuild local public health department workforce and infrastructure so we can be prepared for the next crisis before it hits.”

Since 2022, Gibbons has been helping public health officials fight diseases like tuberculosis, Valley fever, measles, and STDs.

They’re worried that if this help is taken away, state and local health departments won’t be able to react quickly to future health crises, like the bird flu that’s affecting livestock in the U.S.

Through the Future of Public Health initiative, Gibbons has filled over 900 positions in county health departments across the state.

Newsom Budget Cuts Threaten Jobs and Health Safety Programs
Newsom Budget Cuts Threaten Jobs and Health Safety Programs

This initiative is crucial for keeping communities safe from various diseases and responding effectively to new health threats.

Leaders of several county health departments expressed their concern that the $300 million proposed cut represents a significant setback for county health departments, as it was initially a hard-fought commitment from the state.

This funding was intended to address long-standing issues of underfunding in public health systems, particularly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Approximately two-thirds of this annual funding is allocated to counties, while the remaining portion supports the operations of the California Department of Public Health.

Monterey County Health Director Elsa Jimenez expressed concern that state funding has been crucial for her department’s response to public health emergencies.

She said, “We expanded our laboratory, epidemiology, and public health preparedness efforts by adding an assistant laboratory director, a supervising public health epidemiologist, and a chronic disease prevention coordinator.”

The funding also helps Monterey County run its Healthy Housing Program, which checks homes for health and safety problems like mold.

Jimenez mentioned that if these cuts go through, the program would have to stop being proactive and would only respond to complaints.

This change could hurt the health of many low-income residents, especially those who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).

Jimenez said, “Many of our BIPOC residents, with the high cost of living in our community, are forced to live with two, three, four, five families, even in certain houses,” “We would hate to go back to a reactive phase, as opposed to being proactive and helping to ensure that they live in safe and healthy housing.”

Dr. Aimee Sisson, health director of Yolo County expressed her views that “There is not funding waiting in the wings.”

She added, “If we lose this funding, people will lose their jobs and work will not get done.”

Sisson said that Yolo County received $1.4 million this year from the Future of Public Health program, which makes up about 5% of its total public health budget.

Unlike other funding, this program allows counties flexibility in spending to address community needs.

With these funds, Yolo County set up wellness vending machines offering COVID-19 tests, contraception, mosquito repellent, fentanyl test strips, and more. They also hired a health coordinator to support farmworkers’ health.

Asked about the cuts Friday, Newsom said “We wish this was a program we could continue to absorb and afford.” Newsom emphasized that his budget proposal is not final, and lawmakers could choose to reject his proposed cuts. He said, “We have a shortfall. We have to be sober about the reality of what our priorities are.”

About the author

William Smith

William Smith is a dynamic editor at World-Wire, covering a wide range of topics including health, technology, travel, and events. Known for his ability to simplify complex subjects, he engages readers with his insightful FAQs and articles. His diverse expertise has earned him accolades, including the "Excellence in Diverse Journalism" award in 2022.

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