Los Angeles County Budget Dilemma Pits Health Services Against Sheriff’s Office
The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday on the budget debate between the Los Angeles County health department -- which faces an estimated $500 million dollar budget shortfall that forced the elimination of 153 jobs in December and could close some public health centers by April -- and county Sheriff Lee Baca, who is "pushing" for a $50 million renovation of the abandoned Hall of Justice. The Times reports that although county supervisors unanimously voted this month to entertain renovation bids from private contractors for the Hall of Justice, many are "cautious about committing to the ... renovation" because of budget constraints. A spokesperson for Supervisor Gloria Molina, whose district includes the Hall of Justice, said that Molina will not approve the renovation project if it takes away money that could be used for the health department. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said, "There's a lot we can do with $2.5 million a year" -- the projected cost of renovating the Hall of Justice. He added, "It's not negligible when we when we could use it to increase money for home care workers who are struggling on their wages." Baca, however, called any link between funding for the health department and the sheriff's office "irrelevant," adding that "[h]ealth services is sucking up discretionary general fund dollars that should really be applied to save this abandoned building" (Schwartz, Los Angeles Times, 1/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.