Budget Committees Assess Early Action Package, HHS Subcommittees Begin Work

The California State Senate and Assembly continue to ramp up their budget-related activities with the majority of budget subcommittees beginning hearings on proposed investments this week and next.

On Thursday, the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee convened a hearing to consider and advance a series of measures included in the early budget action package. The full committee considered several budget clean-up measures and augmentations to the 2021 Budget Act, including funding to support the continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the measures assessed by the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee was AB 147 (Ting) which proposes to transfer a total of $1.9 billion from the General Fund to the California Emergency Relief Fund to support increased COVID-19 testing capacity, enhance and expand vaccination programs, bolster the health care delivery system, support frontline workers, and address the state’s latest COVID-19 surge fueled by the Omicron variant. Funding is anticipated to be allocated to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH; $1.6 billion), the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR; $205.5 million), and the Office of Emergency Services (OES; $100 million).

The committee also considered budget measures to provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (AB 84), COVID-19 economic relief (AB 87), human services (AB 139), and state bargaining units (AB 142). The Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee voted and approved all budget measures heard on Thursday; the measures now move to the full Senate for consideration. The agenda from the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee is available here.

The Assembly Budget Committee is set to convene a similar hearing on Monday morning to consider and advance measures included in the early budget action package. The Legislature is anticipated to vote on the measures included in the early budget action package as soon as next week.

In addition to the movement on early budget action items, budget subcommittees are in the process of scaling up their activities for the spring. The Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Health & Human Services convened its first hearing for the year on Thursday afternoon to review a series of investment proposals under the authority of the California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS), the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA), the Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI), the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC), and Covered California.

The subcommittee received a series of implementation updates of initiatives approved in the 2021 Budget Act, including the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative and ACEs and Toxic Stress Awareness Campaign. The bulk of the subcommittee’s agenda items were informational only and no votes were taken during the subcommittee hearing.

The Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services will convene on Monday to consider health care affordability-related investments.

As subcommittees begin their work in earnest over the coming weeks and months, CHEAC will continue to keep members apprised of budget-related activities of most interest to California local health departments.