The League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley recently joined the Contra Costa Budget Justice Coalition (BJC) https://www.budgetjusticecc.org/. The Coalition is chaired by Dan Geiger, Director of the Human Services Alliance of Contra Costa, and its mission is to advocate for community engagement in the budgeting process and “for a set of values-based budgeting principles that support safe and affordable housing, stable employment with fair wages, sufficient healthy food, essential health care, access to critical social services, quality early care and education.”
Anna Roth, Director of Contra Costa Health Services, and Kathy Gallagher, Director of Contra Costa Employment & Human Services, spoke at a recent BJC Meeting in Concord. The largest share of the $3.58 billion County budget—70%--goes to Health and Human Services. It is important for the Coalition to understand budget priorities and processes for those departments.
Ms. Roth said that food insecurity (hunger) is a huge issue for about 60% of Health Services clients. The budget is driven by the needs of the County’s most vulnerable population. The Health System is changing from system centered to human centered. The current priorities are to maintain existing services, and to identify what metrics of health to use. Challenges include cost increases and flat or declining revenues.
Ms. Gallagher explained that Employment & Human Services receives Federal, State, and County funding. Many services they provide are legally mandated: welfare; child protection; Head Start; Workforce Development. Revenues for CalFresh and CalWorks are declining. There are new requirements with fewer staff.
Following the presentations, Mr. Geiger moderated a discussion among the presenters and the non-profit and union groups present. It is clear that increased advocacy at the state and federal level is needed, and that the County needs more revenue.
The Budget Justice Coalition meets the last Thursday of the Month from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the Richmond Community Foundation. For slides from the February 28, 2019 presentations, as well as slides from the County Budget Workshop on December 5, 2018, click on the link below.
Marian Shostrom, LWVDV reporter