Supervisor Dave Cortese
Happy New Year! Although there were no countdowns, noisemakers or confetti, July 1st was the beginning of our new fiscal year, the date that our new spending plan goes into effect through June 30, 2018.
The 2017-2018 Budget was approved by the Board on June 16 after three days of workshops and three days of hearings (all public meetings), with hours of public testimony, which Board members listen to intently. We care about your concerns and opinions about how the County is spending your tax dollars.
Financially, the County is in a good place. For the fourth year in a row, we won’t have to trim our $6.5 billion budget, thanks to a strong local economy and action we took four years ago to cut our costs and increase our cash flow. Over a decade, we had to make $1.8 billion in cuts. So, the County is still rebuilding its workforce of about 20,000.
But we also live under a cloud of uncertainty about funding we receive from the federal government. The Trump Administration has threatened to withhold funding from communities that believe undocumented workers are entitled to legal representation and due process before deportation decisions are made. The federal budget, which is still working its way through Congress, also could have dramatic cuts to Medicaid, food assistance and welfare programs.
We also are watching carefully the changes in healthcare brought about by a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Depending on what happens in Washington, we may have to revise our budget, and we are prepared to do that by bolstering our reserves to $66 million. But if we lose significant health care funding, we would have to make cuts elsewhere so that we can protect the health of our residents.
On the brighter side, thanks to voters in Santa Clara County, our Housing Bond will generate $950 million in funding for affordable housing in the next decade, with $215 million available this fall for us to start the building process. The budget includes an additional $14 million to provide expanded services to homeless, supplement housing programs and boost our supportive housing services reserve fund.
In the Budget, we also have provided funds for projects that are proposed by Supervisors at the request of community members and organizations. Moving forward will be a new Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement, one of my proposals. Over the past few years, the County and our cities have enacted new labor standards and policies, including minimum wage, wage theft, living wage and pay equity to fight illegal practices and discrimination. You’ll be hearing more about this proposal when the item comes back to the Board in August.
Other proposals, which we call Inventory Items, include:
- A Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Collaborative with Alameda County proposed by Supervisor Cindy Chavez.
- Sugar Savvy health workshops for child care providers proposed by Supervisor Ken Yeager.
- Job Training for Homeless proposed by Supervisor Joe Simitian
- A multi-jurisdiction South County Youth Task Force proposed by Supervisor Mike Wasserman.
For more information about the Budget, visit www.sccgov.org and click on Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Budget Information under Hot Topics.