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State budget cuts impact on Butte County

Butte County leaders are working on a plan to keep things running under Gov. Gavin Newsom's revised state budget on private and public zones as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted: May 28, 2020 11:47 AM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - Butte County leaders are working on a plan to keep things running under Gov. Gavin Newsom's revised state budget on private and public zones as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The state went from a $54 billion surplus to a $21 billion shortfall. 

Butte County Chief Administrative Officer, Shari McCracken, told Action News Now the loss of sales tax is the biggest reason for the shortfall.

McCracken said the main issues are dealing with state sales tax, local sales tax, and gas taxes.

"People aren't driving as much as they use too, so we're looking at a $1.6 million hit in the current year because we don't have people driving and another million dollars in the next fiscal year," McCracken said.

Overall, Butte County could take a $16.7 million hit through realignment. The loss of almost $17 million in sales tax revenue in Butte County alone and about $100 million statewide, McCracken said.

The public safety programs taking the biggest hit are child and adult protective services, court security, juvenile, and probation services.

McCracken categorized the counties programs that are going to be affected:

  • $5.1 million for behavioral health programs
  • $8.2 million social services programs
  • $800,000 for public health programs
  • $2.5 million for various public safety programs

We could also see an $8.2 million hit to social services like adoption and foster care, according to McCracken.

"I am afraid that it's going to affect my daughter, my kids were taken in CPS and after the quarantine, I've been separated from my daughter. I have had phone appointments but sometimes the days when you get turned away, like I get turned away from seeing my daughter, it breaks my heart," said Amber Silver, who has two kids.

Silver said she also has been going through programs with Butte County Behavioral Health and is afraid that she may get turned down services.

"There are certain programs that can have cuts from 5 to 10% or they can be cut entirely but we're waiting for the Federal Government to give us those answers," said Scott Kennelly, Butte County Behavioral Health Director.

Kennelly explains that services have been up since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak happened but since money is low - it's hard to accept new people.

"The funding, the $5.1 million, is used to draw out on federal financial participation or federal funds," Kennelly said. "We use it as a match, so we're talking about a $10.2 million cut, those cuts impact our prevention services, outpatient mental health services, and our substance use services."

Kennelly said those cuts cannot go towards mandatory services like a crisis, use services, or in-patient psych services. Kennelly has been in the program for 25 years and has never seen budget cuts like this.

Debra Lucero is the Supervisor of District 2 in Butte County said there is also a $900,000 hit for proposition 172 which is funding for public safety with sales tax - which was voted in favor, by the voters that help fund safety programs.

"General fund pays for local fund of public safety but that's usually the first thing we want to keep, we want to keep our firefighters, our police officers, all of that," said Lucero.

Lucero said the libraries are always the first thing to be cut but she thinks they are essential to the communities.

Lucero said the coronavirus has shown them that the senior programs have been impacted because people over the age of 65 could be dependent on the Cal Fresh programs but didn't know they qualified for the programs. Lucero wants to encourage the public to get involved and "show up."

"We are learning a lot of the safety nets now," Lucero said. "We need a better system, we need to be more regional, and rethink what we are doing."

The budget must still be approved by the state legislature until anything is final. McCracken said they have pushed their budget hearing back until July 21, 2020.

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