By Fraser Perkins —
Kendra Burns-Edel introduced Marie Lloyd of Re-Imagine LA: Yes on Measure J who delved into the details of the county-wide measure. Sheila Kuehl authored this ballot measure which was in turn approved by the LA County Supervisors on a 4 -1 vote. Measure J earned support from LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and over 100 local and nonprofit organizations. It’s the first measure of its kind nationwide – a measure designed to address racial injustice in our society.
The LA County budget is 35 billion dollars, including 8.8 billion dollars of unrestricted funds. Measure J allocates 10% of unrestricted funds to community investments in alternatives to incarceration including:
- Youth development
- Affordable housing
- Minority and women run small businesses
- Mental health care support
- Youth in general
County wide there are currently 33,000 youth in foster care, 60,000 homeless and 18,000 in the jail system. It costs $1,200 per day per admission in a county juvenile camp; mental health issues are rampant in the LA County jail system.
Los Angeles County currently spends 230 million dollars on programs covered by Measure J. A little math clarifies the challenge. 10% of $8.8 Billion = $880 million, or an increase of $650 million from current spending on these programs. Though Measure J is neither a tax nor a defunding, it would represent a county budgetary challenge requiring reallocation of resources within the county budget.
In general, law enforcement agencies have opposed the measure; three agencies have outspent measure proponents by $2.5 million. Ms. Lloyd felt labor union opposition prevented the county supervisors from simply passing the measure on their own. Countervailing pressure from the Black Lives Matter movement and nonprofits motivated the supervisors to place the measure on the ballot.