Assembly Budget Sub. 1 Considers CDPH Investments, Including Public Health Infrastructure and Workforce

On Monday, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services heard various proposals under the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), including the Governor’s January Budget proposal to provide $300 million ongoing to state and local health departments. CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón and Chief Deputy Director Susan Fanelli presented the Newsom Administration’s proposal to provide $200 million to local health jurisdictions and $100 million to CDPH for critical state public health workforce and infrastructure.

The state’s portion of the $300 million investment is anticipated to support over 400 positions at the state level across workforce development, emergency preparedness and response, information technology and data science, communications and public education, community partnerships, and community health improvement efforts.

During the hearing, CHEAC Executive Director Michelle Gibbons emphasized the importance of the investments proposed by the Newsom Administration. Ms. Gibbons, during her remarks to the subcommittee, expressed CHEAC’s support for the Governor’s $300 million proposal to fund advancements in state and local public health challenges the public health workforce is experiencing, exacerbated by burnout, harassment of public health officials, and increased competition with other sectors.

Ms. Gibbons emphasized the importance of the investment to enable state and local health departments to begin to rebuild and expand the local public health workforce. Ms. Gibbons also called attention to the California Can’t Wait Coalition’s budget requests for one-time investments in critical public health training and workforce pipeline investments.

SEIU California member Julio Ramirez, a Public Health Microbiology Supervisor, brought attention to the importance of the work of public health professionals such as public health educators, disease investigators, microbiologists, and community health workers perform for California communities.

Mr. Ramirez explained that while effective efforts have been made to curtail the effects of COVID-19, the prior lack of funding for the public health infrastructure severely decreased California’s ability to combat other harmful diseases and organisms. He finished his testimony by emphasizing that the $300 million in funding proposed by the Newsom Administration for public health will assist in rebuilding the public health infrastructure and thereby increase public health professionals’ capacity to protect the health of Californians.

Following the panel’s comments, Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 Chair Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula expressed the Legislature’s willingness to engage with CDPH and address the public health workforce pipeline needs. He also reiterated his interest in ensuring local jurisdictions do not supplant the funding, with CDPH highlighting metrics that are forthcoming and will hold locals accountable. Assembly Member Arambula also raised questions around the Legislative Analyst’s Office recommendation in evaluating the laboratory capacity in California. CDPH discussed work groups intended to explore this and committed to a detailed evaluation of the appropriate capacity in our state.

CHEAC supports additional items considered by the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 including the climate and health surveillance program, public health regional climate planning, the Alzheimer’s Healthy Brain Initiative, California Home Visiting Program expansion, and the Black Infant Health (BIH) program expansion.

No action was taken by the committee and items were held open. The full agenda for Monday’s hearing is available here. A video recording of the hearing is available here. (Please note, there were technical issues that affected the audio throughout the hearing so some portions of the testimonies and questions may not be audible.)