In the opening line of her state-of-the-county speech last Wednesday evening, Dianne Jacob, chairwoman for the County Board of Supervisors, promised the audience a “no B.S. speech,” implying she would give an accurate depiction of the county’s finances. Jacob also said the county and its constituents are headed for some “treacherous times.”
Two days later, on Friday, February 13, Jacob added San Diego County’s name to the list of 27 other California counties suing state controller John Chiang for withholding welfare and foster-care payments.
The state has ceased funding to many programs until a state budgetary agreement is reached. The deadline for the budget was July of last year. Chiang’s office has said that without a budget, the state can’t cut any checks.
“With no signs of an economic recovery in sight,” reads a February 10 press release from the controller’s office, “it is critical that the Governor and the Legislature enact a sound budget solution that provides much-needed cash by February 1. If not, the State will be $346 million in the red at the end of February, and $5.2 billion in the red in April.”
Chiang specified which funding was on temporary hold: “Thousands of payments to businesses for services and products they provide to the State...assistance for more than a million aged, blind, and disabled Californians that goes to pay their rent, utilities, or put food on their tables...State agencies that use the payments to fund critical public services, ranging from public safety to health and welfare.”
The controller’s press release went on to say that if a budget isn’t passed by the end of February, checks will be postponed for an additional month.
County supervisor Greg Cox, referring to the lawsuit being brought against the controller’s office, said in a press release that “this is not an attack on the controller. But none of our counties are in a position to serve as the ATM for the state. If Wall Street won’t make loans to the state, why would California counties?”
The state legislature is expected to vote on a budget today, February 14.