PHI Statement on California Budget: Communities can’t wait for public health resources
Statement from Matthew Marsom, Public Health Institute’s Senior Vice President of Programs and Policy
“Tonight the Legislature released its final budget for California, a roadmap that lays out priorities and allocates resources to fund them. The Public Health Institute is disappointed that the California Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund was not included among the initiatives funded this fiscal year—particularly in a year that brings both a historic budget surplus and an equally historic public health crisis.
“In fact, it is the same vision laid out by the California Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund that is pulling us through the COVID pandemic, and which should guide us out of it. We know now that trusted relationships, trustworthy networks and community connections can overcome systemic barriers to health, and are a pathway to both equity and better outcomes.
“The State is investing today in the wisdom of community based organizations to share COVID prevention information in their primary languages and to dismantle vaccine access barriers to help neighbors get vaccinated. We must trust these same community based groups tomorrow to know the best ways to make their own neighborhoods safe, healthier, and more equitable. That’s what the Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund would do.
“The Administration and the legislature did reach a commitment to allocate a minimum of $300m to address preventable death and disease, reduce health disparities, and support an agile public health workforce beginning in 2022. We look forward to working with them to make sure that at least $100m in ongoing dollars of that sum, which the legislature had previously voted to support, is available to the California Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund from 2022 on. Working together, we can ensure that the California communities who bore the brunt of systemic racism and its health impacts going into the pandemic, and whose disparities and loss have been multiplied by it, do not get left out again.”
See a budget statement from our Roots of Change, analyzing the issues they have been following related to food and agriculture: “Progress, Never Perfection.”
Advocates Celebrate Budget Commitment of Future Health Equity Funds
A statewide coalition for a proposed Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund released the following statement in response to the joint budget agreement between Governor Newsom and the California legislature for FY 2021-2022.
This proposal is supported by: Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), Black Women for Wellness Action Project, California Black Health Network, California Black Women’s Health Project, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Public Health Advocates, Public Health Institute, Roots Community Health Center, Roots of Change and nearly 350 other organizations and individuals from across the state.
“Our coalition thanks the legislature and Governor for prioritizing a historic $300 million annual commitment of funds starting in 2022-2023 “for local health jurisdictions, health equity and racial justice innovation grants, and public health workforce development programs.”
“We look forward to working alongside the Governor, legislators, and policy makers in fully and swiftly implementing the California Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund. The pandemic underscored the urgency of addressing rampant health disparities across our state, where Black, Indigenous, people of color, low income people, and LGBTQ+ people experience worse health outcomes and shorter life spans.
“Our innovative fund intervenes in these unjust outcomes and will provide grants to community-based organizations, clinics and tribal organizations to address health disparities. Racism is deeply rooted in our policies, budgets, and systems and it is long past time to remove barriers to health and barriers to health determinants like housing, education, food, and more.
“Health equity and racial justice are inextricably linked and the path toward a more just and equitable future depends on creating better health outcomes, starting with listening to what communities need most and shifting power to their hands.
“We urge Governor Newsom to sign this historic budget and to work closely with advocates, community-based organizations, clinics, tribal organizations, and all stakeholders to ensure the commitment of funds becomes a reality.”