NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodBakersfield

Actions

Counties, including Kern, send letter to the state following major budget cuts

Posted at 7:06 PM, May 31, 2024

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — After Governor Gavin Newsom announced his revised budget with major cuts to multiple programs, several San Joaquin Valley counties are responding with a letter urging for reconsideration.

  • Among the budget cuts is funding for programs within behavioral health, something Kern County Board of Supervisors Chairman David Couch says is too important to overlook.
  • Along with funding for behavioral health services, other priorities noted in the letter include public health, water storage, wildfire response, and transportation infrastructure.
  • The governor’s revised budget is set to begin July 1.

After Governor Gavin Newsom announced his revised budget with major cuts to multiple programs, several San Joaquin Valley counties are responding with a letter urging for reconsideration.

Among the budget cuts is funding for programs within behavioral health, something Kern County Board of Supervisors Chairman David Couch says is too important to overlook.

“We recognize there’s going to be cuts, they just need to be smart about where they’re going to make them," Couch said.

When it comes to behavioral health, homelessness, and housing, Couch recognizes that all these issues go hand-in-hand in Kern. As we toured the new psychiatric facilities in Bakersfield, he said he learned just how vital these services are to our community.

“Some of the littlest most vulnerable population, 6 and under, up until now had have had to go out of county," he said. "Now part of this facility will serve that population."

That’s why he signed on behalf of Kern a letter to the state advising priorities for the budget.

Under the governor’s revised budget, funding for CalWORKS — a program used by behavioral health through the department of human services — is reduced by $272 million. This is in addition to the nearly $126 million reduction in the programs mental health and substance abuse services.

“Six weeks to end a program is a very short time frame, and that’s really concerning for the individuals we serve in this program," said Kern Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Director Alison Burrowes.

Burrowes said while they’ll be able to absorb the individuals impacted by this budget revision, the loss will impact more than just the CalWORKS program.

“We’re looking at a potential trickle-down effect of some of these individuals needing higher level of care and us continuing to look for ways to support them," she said.

KBHRS is working to revise their budget to accommodate the loss of funding. Burrowes said while infrastructure is important — their priority is vital services.

Looking at what the county was able to provide with these facilities thanks to state dollars, Couch believes there’s a better way to address the deficit.

“There’s all types of things they can do to increase revenue," he said. "What Sacramento hears when they think increase revenue is higher taxes. How about if they let people drill for oil?"

Along with funding for behavioral health services, other priorities noted in the letter include public health, water storage, wildfire response, and transportation infrastructure.

The governor’s revised budget is set to begin July 1.


Stay in Touch with Us Anytime, Anywhere: