Your Santa Cruz County Budget
On June 27th the Board of Supervisors took final action to approve Santa Cruz County's 2017-2018 budget. This is the most important thing we do all year and I’m committed to ensuring that the way we allocate those dollars reflects the priorities and values of the people of Santa Cruz County.
The Board reviewed the work of hundreds of programs that protect our environment, ensure public health and safety, and improve opportunity while also balancing the County’s budget.
This year I worked with an amazing group of advocates and Supervisor Zach Friend to secure funding for the Thrive by Three Fund which will help our most vulnerable babies and toddlers. Effective programs serving babies and toddlers not only provide benefits to the children served, they also significantly reduce public costs over the long term.
I was also happy to support an expansion of the behavioral health Mobile Emergency Response Team and substance abuse services in order to provide rapid access to services for the high-risk population in an effort to ensure positive outcomes for individuals and for our community.
I also supported efforts to fix our storm-damaged roads as soon as possible, an additional probation officer to increase public safety, an additional parks maintenance worker to keep our wonderful parks in good condition, and a $4 million investment in our local safety net programs focused on better outcomes for our community.
I'm proud that the Board is making strategic investments in our community while building reserves and maintaining a strong credit rating.
Central California Alliance for Health- Providing Quality Health Care to Low-Income Residents
I was recently elected as Chair of the Board for the Central California Alliance for Health - the Medi-Cal HMO covering over 350,000 people (36% of the population) in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Merced Counties.
For over two decades the Alliance has been providing access to quality care to members and is a leader in creating better health care systems and outcomes. While on the Board, I've been pleased to support more than $40 million in grants to expand primary care, maternal and child health services, and mental health and substance use disorder services throughout Santa Cruz. The Alliance also committed almost $1 million to fund Santa Cruz County’s Nurse-Family Partnership program supporting moms and their families, which I have spearheaded at the Board of Supervisors.
I’m proud that our local health plan is providing access to quality care and investing in proven prevention and health strategies.
The Alliance is closely monitoring the troubling health care-related developments at the national level. It is too soon to say if legislation will be approved, and what the final details of the legislation would be, but proposals to take health care away from millions of residents who need it are disturbing and cruel. I strongly oppose all efforts to take away and reduce health coverage!
Fighting Climate Change
Our President made a senseless and destructive move by pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, but we will do the right thing for the world even if our President won't. Santa Cruz County will more than meet the climate goals of the Paris accords – we have already met the 2020 emissions reduction target and we are on a path to reducing emissions to 59 percent below 2009 levels by 2050.
I brought a letter to the Board of Supervisors urging my colleagues to declare that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement and join the "We Are Still In" group. I’m also happy to announce that the County is moving forward with solar installations at 7 County-owned sites. These solar projects are expected to offset carbon emissions by 637 tons per year and save the County $10.7 million over 25 years, while creating good green jobs!
Protect Yourself Against Scams
I recently held a community meeting with District Attorney Jeff Rosell and his Consumer Fraud Unit to help inform residents, particularly seniors, about the threat of consumer fraud. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam or you want more information, call the Consumer Fraud & Environmental Protection Unit at 831-454-2050 or click here.
New Sheriff's Deputy on the North Coast
Sheriff Jim Hart has opened a North Coast Service Center in Davenport and Sergeant Mark Yanez is the North Coast’s first Service Center sergeant. During the summer months, the North Coast will see two additional Deputies 7 days a week. The Sheriff’s Office is coordinating with North Coast communities to increase safety for residents and tourists alike.
Thank you to Sheriff Jim Hart for establishing this permanent presence along Santa Cruz County's North Coast!
Santa Cruz County has a New County Administrative Officer
After an extensive search, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed Carlos Palacios as the new County Administrative Officer. Carlos has served as assistant County Administrative Officer for the last two years as well as Watsonville City Manager for the previous 19 years. I’m looking forward to working with Carlos to bring strategic planning, staff development, and performance metrics to Santa Cruz County.
The County has benefited immensely from the hard work and commitment of out-going CAO Susan Mauriello. I wish her all the best in her well-deserved retirement.
Supporting Equal Protection for the LGBT Community
Last year, the Board of Supervisors approved a ban on all non-essential publicly-funded travel to North Carolina, Mississippi, and any other state that passes discriminatory laws that deny equal protection to GLBT persons.
Unfortunately, we now have to add Texas to that list. Texas Governor Abbott recently signed HB 3859, which allows discrimination against children and same-sex prospective parents. I support the Human Rights Campaign and others who are fighting back against anti-LGBTQ legislation.