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DSA In the News

County preps for big state hit

Published on 2/7/2011

The governor’s proposed budget cuts and shifts means an estimated $17.25 million loss for San Mateo County programs and services, potentially leaving the infirm and elderly without in-home care, children without complete health coverage and the jail filled with hundreds of state prison inmates.

The Board of Supervisors will hear the bleak forecast at its Tuesday meeting and, according to the analysis prepared by County Manager David Boesch, the situation could worsen.

Cost estimates related to possible realignment — the shifting of services from the state to the county — are not yet known but “could potentially be substantial,” Boesch wrote.

Of what is estimated, county officials say it is still too early to tell what will stick and what funding will be lost.

However, the numbers penciled out for Tuesday’s meeting shows hits to several areas, particularly those in heath and human services.

The first phase of funding changes include the shifting of low-level prisoners to the county which Sheriff Greg Munks estimates means approximately 396 inmates serving 11.5-month sentences. District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe similarly estimates 400 to 500 new prosecution cases annually when this happens and Health System Director Jean Fraser estimates an extra $1.05 million in new correctional health costs.

If the Division of Juvenile Justice is eliminated as proposed, the Probation Department expects approximately 20 youth will come back. The department also will be asked to supervise state inmates released but can’t yet estimate how much of an increased caseload it means.

Timing of the second phase — a shake up of programs like food stamps and in-home supportive services —hasn’t been announced which makes it difficult for the county to determine the impacts but Boesch’s office believes the Health System will lose $8.7 million in funding, the Human Services Agency will lose $2.2 million, Public Works will lose $6 million and $350,000 in child support collections will go to the state general fund.

More specifically, the San Mateo Medical Center will lose $3.94 million in Medi-Cal funding because of service caps, uncollected payments and a 10 percent reduction in provider reimbursement. The county will save $535,378 by reductions in in-home aid but 2,474 clients will lose approximately 224,424 hours of care. Approximately 250 low-income, older adults in need of nursing facilities will be at risk as will approximately 139 older adults who need daytime supervision.

Changes to the Healthy Families program, including the complete elimination of vision care, will affect approximately 10,599 children in the county and early childhood services will be dramatically affected by plans to shift funding from the First 5 Commission.

Caps on CalWorks benefits and state child care will hit HSA, which is already trying to manage a 70 percent caseload increase with flat funding levels. HSA also believes clients will be forced to choose between working and staying home to care for children.

County veterans will lose $50,000 in services under the proposed budget. Also, one-third of the county’s transportation money, which it uses to maintain and operate roads in the unincorporated areas, is in jeopardy unless voters re-enact the 2010 gas tax swap.

The Board of Supervisors meets 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8 in Board Chambers, 400 County Government Center, Redwood City.