Supes Fight Back
Monterey County joins multi-billion lawsuit against the state.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monterey County will sue the state, supervisors announced on Feb. 10, joining a host of other California counties that will go to court to fight missed payments from the state.
The state requires counties to provide food stamps, welfare, Medi-Cal, foster care programs and many other health and social services, and is supposed to pay counties to run them. This week, the state stopped sending money—some $89 million—to California’s 58 counties. But the legal requirements to provide the services remain.
At the board meeting on Feb. 10, county supervisors blasted state legislators for failing to reach a budget agreement and forcing cities and counties to “do the dirty work,” of cutting safety-net programs and not making welfare payments.
“It is unconscionable,” Supervisor Dave Potter said. “It’s a dereliction of duty. It’s not our duty to do the dirt work that is a result of others’ inactivity.
“Hell, no, we’re not going to take it any more.”
In light of the state’s projected $42 billion budget deficit, state Controller John Chiang recently announced that payments to counties (along with tax refunds, state contract workers’ checks and several other bills) would be deferred until lawmakers signed off on a state spending plan.
Now, California counties are fighting back. Monterey County will join a lawsuit set to be filed on Feb. 10 against Chiang, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer and, according to County Counsel Charles McKee, possibly the state Department of Social Services for failure to fund state-mandated programs. The counties argue that because the money has already been appropriated by the Legislature in the state budget, Chiang must release the funds and send checks to the local governments. Monterey County will join a second lawsuit against the state for failing to adequately fund state-mandated programs, McKee said. “We are seeking injunction and or declaration that county’s are not mandated to backfill those programs,” he said. This could mean county-run social service programs would close until state money comes in.
At the board meeting, McKee said all 58 counties would likely go to court.