State budget posed to bankrupt Imperial County

Ca. Gov. Jerry Brown presenting an expected budget forecast. Photo by ABC7 News.

EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Board of Supervisors expressed concern Tuesday morning regarding the county’s continued financial viability in light of the recent budget proposal by California Gov. Jerry Brown. If the budget passes, the county would be responsible for paying for mandated services previously financed by the State. As a result, the county’s general fund would suffer a $24.2 million dollars impact, effectively bankrupting the county.

“If this goes through,” said Ralph Cordova, Jr., Imperial County CEO, “you literally have to sit there and give the keys of the county to the state.”

The state budget currently does not including funding for its Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI), and the program will end June 30 unless funding is restored. The removal of CCI shifts financial responsibility of services, which are mandated by federal and state laws, from the state to the counties, specifically In-home Supportive Services, which assists senior citizens or other impaired individuals in their homes.

Between the closure of CCI and the recent raising of the minimum wage to $15 and increasing sick leave days for the in-home workers, the financial cost for counties will escalate rapidly over the next six years. Since the costs will impact the county general fund, Social Services will not be the only department affected.

“If we can’t afford it, the program dies. Or the county does. One of the two,” said Cordova. “This is going to destroy not only the Imperial County but a program that’s very needed here in the Imperial Valley.”

In response, the board voted in a unanimous decision to send a letter to Sacramento expressing their concerns with the proposed budget.

Cordova also noted that involved unions were concerned about the developments from Sacramento.

It is estimated that California county governments could absorb in total $625 million in costs this next fiscal year and $4.4 billion over the next six years. All counties are being asked to write to their legislators in opposition to the budget.