LAO Publishes Assessment of Public Health Infrastructure and Workforce Spending Plan

The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) this week issued its assessment of the Newsom Administration’s proposal for public health foundational support, namely the Governor’s January Budget proposal to provide $300 million ongoing to state and local public health.

The LAO provides historical context and background of state funding into the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), as well as the series of needs exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The LAO report details the Governor’s proposed funding to state and local public health departments and the six-point plan to bolster the state’s public health infrastructure through staff recruitment and training, emergency response, information technology, communications, community partnerships, and community health.

In its assessment of the Newsom Administration’s proposal, the LAO finds the Administration’s spending plan has many merits, including increasing real-time disease surveillance, coordinating regional epidemiological and communications activities, and improving strategic planning. However, the LAO identifies gaps in the Administration’s plan relative to creating a workforce pipeline, strengthening its statewide public health laboratory network, and laying out an overarching information technology strategy.

Further, the LAO identifies opportunities for the Legislature to strengthen oversight of local health departments. The Administration’s proposal, as written, does not include minimum requirements or goals for local health departments, and the LAO notes that tying local plans directly to community health needs assessments (CHAs) and community health improvement plans (CHIPs) may not be the best substitute “for a more deliberate and consistent type of local plan” across local health departments.

The LAO in its report outlines a series of recommendations for consideration by legislators:

  • Asking for more information from the Newsom Administration, particularly around omitted objectives in the spending plan that the LAO identifies
  • Incorporating better oversight of local health departments, including by requiring more CDPH management of local plan development and oversight of local health departments’ use of funds
  • Developing reporting requirements, such as regular reports to the Legislature on CDPH and local health department efforts
  • Implementing the Administration’s plan through trailer bill language instead of the currently proposed budget bill

The full LAO assessment on the Administration’s public health infrastructure and workforce spending plan is available here.