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LA County Takes Step Towards Asking Voters To Divert More Money To Social Services

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 Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 today to put a measure on the November ballot that would permanently require at least 10% of the county’s unrestricted general fund dollars go towards social service and racial justice programs. During the current fiscal year, that’s estimated to be about $800 million.

The motion by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis today is a first step. County staff must now draft the ballot measure's exact language and the supervisors need to vote on it twice more in the next two weeks before it gets placed on the ballot.

At that point, voters would be asked to approve the move through a change to the county charter. Money would be redirected to a variety of areas, including:

  • job training
  • rent assistance
  • affordable housing
  • mental health services.
Kuehl said:
"I would say since there’s so much talk about democracy and voting and how important it is, that we allow the people of the county of Los Angeles to say what direction they would really like us to take."

The lone dissenting vote was cast by Board Chair Kathryn Barger, who argued that the proposed change to the charter "will nullify any meaningful dialogue or policy deliberations for years to come." She said that before placing the measure on the ballot, the supervisors should subject it to "ample analysis ... unfortunately, that was not the case in this instance.”
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Some of the money would likely come from the Sheriff’s budget. Sheriff Alex Villanueva blasted the supervisors in a tweet. He argued that diverting money would leave L.A.'s streets looking "like a scene from Mad Max" and urged people who agree with him to "tell the board what you think."

But others believe it makes sense to ask L.A. County residents to weigh in on how the county's budget should be spent.

“We’re really creating a people’s budget that reflects our values to reimagine an L.A. County that is more just and inclusive than it has been,” said Elise Buik, president of United Way of Greater L.A., which helped put the motion together.


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