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LA County could redistribute nearly $1B from law enforcement to 'social programs'

Officials denied it was a scheme to defund law enforcement

Barbara Davidson/Getty Images

Los Angeles County residents will vote this November on whether to redistribute nearly $1 billion in funding from county law enforcement to "social programs."

According to KTTV-TV reporter Bill Melugin, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday to include the charter amendment on November's ballot.

"It would strip $880 million away from Sheriff's Department, court system, DA's office, and redistribute it to low income areas/social programs," Melugin reported. "Supervisor Kathryn Barger was the lone 'no' vote, saying this proposal was rushed, wasn't transparent, had no feedback from stakeholders, and could result in job cuts to county employees as well as budget issues down the road. Other Supervisors say let the voters decide."

The proposal, which has been dubbed "Reimagining L.A. County," mandates that at least 10% of the county's net cost be earmarked for "social programs," according to Melugin.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said the program is not about defunding the police, but rather expanding the so-called social safety net, KTTV reported.

"It's time to bring our budget into alignment with our actions, intentions and vision. The supervisors have said we want to move people from custody to care, and our constituents are pleading with us to expand housing and treatment options and stop relying on punitive, outdated law enforcement tactics," she said.

If approved by voters, the program, whose goal is "to address the disproportionate impact of racial injustice," would be fully implemented by June 2024.

More from KTTV:

If passed by voters, the charter amendment would allocate funds to be spent in a number of broad categories, including youth development programs, job training for low-income communities, access to capital for minority-owned businesses, rent assistance and affordable housing, community-based health services and jail diversion programs.

It would prohibit such funds being used for or redistributed through law enforcement or correctional agencies, including the District Attorney's Office, but would not prohibit its use to cover costs related to trial courts. The ordinance cites only a percentage of "the county's locally generated unrestricted revenues in the general fund," not an absolute number.

Not surprisingly, the program would adversely impact public safety, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva warned last week, explaining he would be forced to close several patrol stations in the county.

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