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Most Vulnerable Communities in Santa Clara County Hit Hardest by Proposed State Cuts

Governor’s May Revision Worsens County Budget Outlook

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— The County of Santa Clara will begin holding budget workshops tomorrow. The County Executive’s Recommended Budget outlines strategies to balance a $223.2 million shortfall which does not include impacts from the state. On Friday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger released his “May Revision” to the FY 2010-11 State Budget that could be devastating to many County programs and services provided to the most vulnerable residents in the community. The major changes proposed in the May Revision are in the areas of social services, health care and law and justice. These changes would include elimination of the CalWORKs program, reductions in In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and mental health funding, imposing co-payments, premiums and other costs in the Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs, and shifting state prisoners to county jails. The State legislature will have to vote on the Governor’s proposal before it would go into effect.

“The impact on the residents of our community who rely on county services would be devastating,” said Supervisor Ken Yeager, President of the Board of Supervisors. “Many of the cuts proposed by the Governor would shred the County’s already fragile safety net at a time when these services are needed the most.”

The CalWORKs program provides financial assistance and employment focused services to families with children who have income below State maximum limits. The Governor’s proposal would eliminate the entire program effective October 1, 2010. This is following the dramatic CalWORKs reductions proposed by the Governor in January, which included a reduction in grant payments and reimbursement to child care providers, and the elimination of services to legal immigrants who have been in the U.S. fewer than five years. This proposal would leave approximately 16,200 families destitute in the county.

“The proposed CalWorks cuts would be devastating to this county,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, Chair of County’s Children Seniors and Families Committee. “Eliminating dollars going directly into our local economy is a bad idea.”

In Home Support Services workers care for patients in their own homes and make it possible to avoid expensive institutional care. The Governor’s proposal reduces funding for the program by $637 million, cutting the entire program in half. This reduction would affect 17,000 IHSS recipients and providers in Santa Clara County.

Significant changes are proposed for Medi-Cal programs. The proposal includes a limit of 10 visits to physicians annually, a limit on prescriptions to six per month, the elimination of certain over-the-counter medications from coverage, and a cap on benefits including hearing aids, durable medical equipment, and incontinence and wound care supplies. Co-payments would be increased for hospital stays, emergency room visits, and physician, clinic, dental and pharmacy visits.

The proposal would also increase monthly premiums and copayments for families under the Healthy Families program. Monthly premiums would almost double for 37,120 children in Santa Clara County, increasing from $24 to $42 per child, with the family maximum rising from $72 to $126. Copayments would be required for hospital visits and increased for emergency room visits.

“The County’s public health system provides access to health care for everyone,” said Supervisor Liz Kniss, Chair of the County’s Health and Hospital Committee. “Our goal is to offer prevention and early health care intervention to avoid the more costly emergency room and late stage medical services. The proposed changes create barriers to wellness and punish those who are ill.”

Other affected areas in social services and health care include the elimination of the Drug Medi-Cal program for all recipients except youth and pregnant women; reduction of $602 million in community mental health funding; suspension of the AB 3632 mandates, which provide necessary mental health services to children with disabilities; and reduction in grants including taking the entire grant away from the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants.

The May Revision also proposes a shift of responsibility for certain state inmates and parolees to counties. This would increase the number of inmates in County jail as well as the length of their stay and result in larger probation caseloads, thereby increasing local corrections and probation costs. Although, the Governor’s proposal includes funding of $11,500 per inmate and $15,000 per parolee per year to help off-set counties’ costs for necessary support resources, it is unknown if amount is enough to cover the additional expenses.

“When inmates are incarcerated at the county level the cost ranges from $34,000 to $49,000 per year,” said Supervisor George Shirakawa, Chair of the Board’s Public Safety and Justice Committee. “We have to conduct a thorough analysis of the Governor’s proposal to ensure that any transfer of inmates also provides adequate funding.”

“We are doing our best to keep the safety net services for our community while addressing a $223.2 million budget deficit,” said Supervisor Don Gage. “If this proposal is adopted, it may be difficult to continue to deliver these services that we’ve worked so hard to preserve.”

“We recognize that the state’s level of spending is unsustainable,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith. “The magnitude of this challenge calls for a thorough re-examination of the State’s mission and the creation of solutions that reflect consideration of the humanity of those in need. There is a need for caution. Some of the proposed actions would bring short-term fixes but result in longer-term problems.”

Smith said that the County won’t take action on the Governor’s proposals until the legislature modifies or adopts them.

 

BUDGET WORKSHOP SCHEDULE 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 1:30 p.m.

  • Budget Overview
  • Children, Seniors and Families: Department of Child Support Services, In Home Supportive Services
  • Health and Hospital: Children’s Shelter and Custody Health Services, Alcohol and Drug Services, Community Health Services, Valley Health Plan, Public Health and Mental Health.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 6:30 p.m.

  • Children, Seniors and Families, continued: Social Services Agency
  • Health and Hospital, continued: Valley Medical Center

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 1:30 p.m.

  • Finance and Government Operations: Special Programs and Reserves, Contingencies, Board of Supervisors, Clerk of the Board, County Executive’s Office and LAFCO/ Affordable Housing, Assessor, Procurement, County Counsel, Registrar of Voters, Information Services Department, Three Year Technology Plan, County Communications, Facilities and Fleet, Capital Programs, County Library, Employee Services Agency, and Finance Agency.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 - 1:30 p.m.

  • Public Safety and Justice: Office of the District Attorney, Office of the Sheriff, Medical Examiner-Coroner, Office of the Public Defender, Office of Pretrial Services, Department of Correction, Probation Department, and Criminal Justice System-wide Costs.
  • Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation: Measure B, Planning and Development, Agriculture and Environmental Management, Department of Environmental Health and Vector Control District, Parks and Recreation, and Roads and Airports Department.

Budget hearing meetings to make final decisions on the FY 2011 Budget will take place June 14, 15, 16 and 18, 2010.

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Lingxia Meng, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5119
Posted: May 17, 2010