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LA County Braces For Painful Budget Cuts Due To Pandemic Shortfall

The Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration houses several L.A. County offices. (Photo by Susanica Tam/KPCC)
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The L.A. County CEO will present a COVID-era spending plan to the Board of Supervisors today that carves out hundreds of millions of dollars from county departments and programs and leaves a big question mark about the future of funding for homeless services, among other things.

In her new budget revision released Thursday, CEO Sachi Hamai calls the pandemic an “unprecedented crisis” and recommends scaling back the budget by $453.5 million -- including slicing over $145 million from the Sheriff’s Department, which could translate to over 340 department layoffs. It’s not clear if uniformed personnel will be affected.

Nearly every part of the county government is set to feel the pain. Under the plan, all departments would see spending cut by 8%, thousands of vacancies would go unfilled, and hundreds of workers would face layoffs.

Outside of the Sheriff’s Department, some of the largest cuts include:

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  • $14.6 million from Child Support Services, possibly resulting in 137 layoffs
  • $49.1 million from the Probation Department
  • Over $22 million from the District Attorney’s office, and a combined $26 million from the Public Defender and Alternate Public Defender’s offices
  • $20.6 million from Children and Family Services (DCFS)
  • $11 million from Public Social Services
  • $29 million from Integrated Correctional Health Services

Also affected: Funding from Measure H, the landmark sales tax measure that voters passed in 2017 to address the homelessness crisis, has nosedived during the pandemic. The county CEO projects a nearly $71 million loss for the fiscal year starting July 1. That shortfall would have a devastating impact on rental subsidies and supportive services aimed at keeping people off the streets.