Editorial: Newsom should sign budget bill

  • by BAR Editorial Board
  • Wednesday June 19, 2024
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Governor Gavin Newsom. Photo: AP file
Governor Gavin Newsom. Photo: AP file

With California's current fiscal year soon coming to an end, Governor Gavin Newsom should sign Assembly Bill 107, the state's 2024-25 budget bill, which includes some relevant benefits for youth and the LGBTQ community. The Legislative LGBTQ Caucus this week hailed passage of the bill, even in this difficult budget year with the state staring down a $26.7 billion deficit, according to figures Newsom released in May.

"Despite the challenging fiscal times, this budget represents a commitment to protecting and uplifting LGBTQ+ Californians, especially our youth who are disproportionately impacted by mental health challenges," stated lesbian state Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), caucus chair. "We have fought hard to preserve funding for essential programs that provide critical supports and services, even with difficult budget decisions this year, and we will continue to advocate for these vital programs in future budget years."

The End the Epidemics Coalition and Youth Mental Health Equity Coalition support these developments, according to a news release from the LGBTQ caucus and the two groups.

We editorialized recently about the caucus' budget priorities, and it appears that AB 107 contains some of them, though in different forms.


In April, the caucus responded to Newsom's proposal to borrow $500 million from the AIDS Drug Assistance Program by suggesting he reduce the amount by half. This week, the caucus praised commitments to reinvest a portion of ADAP rebates to better serve all of those living with HIV/AIDS and modernize ADAP and its associated programs to increase eligibility, ensure more timely access to medications, and increase the amount of insurance premium coverage. It also noted some funds would be invested in the state's harm reduction clearinghouse and that the bill provides support for communities disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS: transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex people.

There is also a statutory commitment from the Newsom administration that any loaned ADAP funds will be made available to maintain program operations, provide uninterrupted access to drugs and services, and allow for new programs and services, according to the release.

On a related note, included in the state budget is the full restoration of funding for the Future of Public Health initiative at the public health department's Office of Health Equity. That will support infrastructure and services for local health departments across the state, including many programs that disproportionately impact the queer community, such as harm reduction interventions and treatment of infectious diseases.

The caucus noted that it's this health equity office that has traditionally been the state agency that prioritizes health and well-being for the LGBTQ+ community.

End the Epidemics was pleased that a portion of ADAP rebate dollars will be directed to allow for modernization and expansion "while creating pay-back guardrails," it stated. That's important because ADAP is one of the most successful programs around and one so many people living with HIV/AIDS depend on.

Data collection

Collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data has been an ongoing issue with the state health department, as we have reported since the beginning of the COVID pandemic four years ago. AB 107 includes funding to advance LGBTQ+ data collection at the Department of Health Care Services, Department of Public Health, and Health Care Access and Information. The funding will implement system changes to collect voluntary self-identification information. As we reported last December, the health department is working to address lapses in SOGI data collection that were highlighted in a scathing audit by the state auditor in April 2023.

The caucus correctly noted in its release that "data is power and collection of this data will empower the state of California to address and reduce disparities" for the state's LGBTQ communities.


The budget bill includes protection of the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative Public Education and Change Campaign in the state health department, including funding for community-based organizations who serve LGBTQ+ youth around the state. It also includes a statewide youth mental health program aimed specifically at queer teens and young adults.

Brandon Tate, president of the Youth Mental Health Equity Coalition, stated that preserving these programs is critical. "The coalition also thanks the Legislature for its work during this difficult budget year in preserving these programs," Tate stated, urging Newsom to sign the bill.

There are other programs and services we'd like to see funded in the budget that were not mentioned in the caucus' release. That includes money for the TGI Wellness Fund and funding for lesbian state Senator Caroline Menjivar's (D-San Fernando Valley) Senate Bill 954. This bill, a version of which was vetoed by Newsom last year, is the Youth Health Equity and Safety Act, or YHES. It seeks to address the sexually transmitted infection epidemic among California youth and improve equitable public health outcomes statewide by expanding teen access to condoms in schools and communities. Menjivar's bill has been set for a hearing next week.

Overall, it's important that Newsom sign the budget bill so that programs can continue to receive funding. With budget cuts hitting cities like San Francisco and Oakland, to name just two, it's imperative that the state, while facing its own shortfall, help local governments, especially programs related to public health and youth needs.

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