Statement by Supervisor Knabe on Proposed 2007-2008 Los Angels County Budget

While Los Angeles County continues to benefit from a healthy economy and a strong tax base, I am pleased that the Chief Administrative Officer’s proposed 2007-2008 budget focuses on limited new spending and keeps our budget from growing beyond our means.

This budget proposal shows that the focus of the County’s new spending is right where it should be, on programs and services that directly benefit local residents. Over three-fourths of the proposed new spending is going directly to increases in public safety and quality of life services, including over 100 new Sheriff’s deputies to serve our unincorporated communities.

I am still concerned about the Department Health Services, where the structural deficit is quickly reaching a day of reckoning. The health department is anticipating a shortfall of at least $80 million in this coming fiscal year, which must be addressed before we close the books on the year. The costs to maintain the department are massive and we need to eliminate these shortfalls before the County’s General Fund and available funding for other critical services are impacted.

Finally, I am very glad to see that my calls last year for the refurbishment of the Sybil Brand Institute for Women are being answered in this next budget year. The $245 million proposed for the refurbishment of Sybil Brand and the construction of new female barracks at Pitchess Detention Center is a critical step in ending the Early Release Program for the inmates in our jail system.