Supervisor Perez Statement on Riverside County Budget
RIVERSIDE – After budget hearings last week and into today, the Riverside County budget plan for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 was approved 3-2 with Supervisor V. Manuel Perez voting no. Supervisor Perez offers the following statement on the county budget:
“This year was the most difficult county budget in my experience as a Riverside County Supervisor. The county has been faced with very hard choices as a result of the pandemic, one that has had devastating impacts on many small businesses, renters and families in Riverside County. While hopeful we will bounce back from this, the next few years will be tough times for the county.
“Unfortunately, I could not support this budget because it is out of balance with the priorities that it should reflect in this moment in history as well as Riverside County’s fiscal situation.
“I proposed keeping budgets for the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office flat, but the budget that was approved actually increases funding to these departments over last year’s levels. The budget kept intact many priorities I advocated for, such as the Public Defender, Public Social Services, Public Health, the Probation Department and keeping the Blythe Animal Shelter open. Yet, the augmentation of the Sheriff’s and DA’s budgets creates a net effect of a much larger structural deficit that will make budgeting for next year even more challenging.
“Throughout the Fourth District, the County of Riverside, and across the nation are the voices of many urging policymakers to deeply consider our budget priorities. The moment is now and we need to have real conversations on how we can begin to further support our communities through social services, and also address the concerns around institutional racism. I also heard this from local leadership.
“There is an opportunity cost when community policing and enforcement receive a greater share of the county’s limited resources, over areas such as substance use services, community programs, mental health, homelessness, affordable housing, social work efforts, cultural arts, parks and recreation, health care, library services, job creation and education, especially broadband infrastructure in rural areas. We need to move our county into more investment in our people and communities and measures that improve one’s quality of life, and need to have a balance.
“Unfortunately, this budget cycle missed an opportunity for that kind of balance and change that is needed.”