San Diego Lockdowns May Be Ending Soon, But County Spending Is Just Getting Started

Written by Will Seykora

On Thursday San Diego County Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer recommended a $7.03 billion budget proposal for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. This is a 7.3% increase from last year’s spending, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Democrat Supervisor Nathan Fletcher calls this spending increase “a step in the right direction,” stating further “I have fought since 2019 for our budgets to reflect the needs of our community and year-after-year we have successfully increased funding and services to ensure our residents, especially our most vulnerable, are being taken care of better than the year prior,”

Notable aspects of this budget plan include:

  • Justice system: Additional medical care and access to mental health services throughout the jail system with 141 new staff, and $10 million to expand the Mobile Crisis Response Team program, an alternative to dispatching law enforcement for individuals in crisis. Also, $75 million for phase two of the new Youth Transition Campus.
  • Racial justice: Funding a plan to allow the community and employees to evaluate county operations through an equity and racial justice lens, while also using data analysis to help root out systemic racism. The plan also adds support for Office of Equity and Racial Justice projects, such as an initiative designed to advance the interests of boys and men of color.
  • Health equity: $226.9 million toward a continued response to COVID-19 and outreach for hard-hit neighborhoods, continued testing, treatment and tracing efforts, and meals to at-risk seniors. The budget includes 166 additional positions, for programs such as CalFresh and Medi-Cal programs, extra staffing for Adult Protective Services, In-Home Supportive Services and Child Welfare Services.
  • Environmental Protection: $104.5 million for environmental protection includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, planting trees, acquiring at least 500 acres of land for open space, protecting water quality and agriculture, and diverting waste from landfills.

Budget hearings are set to begin June 14th at 9 a.m. and June 16th at 5:30 p.m. The adoption of the budget after board deliberations is planned for June 29th at 2 p.m.

Image via Richard F. Ebert