California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Caucus

06/17/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/17/2024 18:20

California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus Joint Statment on State Budget

June 17, 2024

SACRAMENTO, CA - Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman and Assemblymember Chris Ward, Chair and Vice-Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, and the Youth Mental Health Equity Coalition applaud passage of AB107 (Gabriel), the state of California's 2024-25 Budget, marking significant victories for the LGBTQ+ community. The Legislative LGBTQ Caucus is proud to announce the inclusion of several key initiatives and protections that will benefit LGBTQ+ Californians, particularly our youth, ensuring that our state remains a beacon of inclusivity and support.

"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," said Hon. Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, Chair of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus. "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 Legislative LGBTQ Caucus is proud of the following inclusions in the 2024-25 State Budget and celebrates these victories for LGBTQ+ Californians:

● Full restoration of funding for "The Future of Public Health'' Initiative at the California Department of Public Health Office of Health Equity supporting vital infrastructure and services for local health departments across the state including many programs that disproportionately impact LGBTQ+ communities ranging from life-saving harm reduction interventions to detection and treatment of infectious disease to improve health and wellbeing for local LGBTQ+ communities. The Office of Health Equity has traditionally been how the state prioritizes health and wellbeing for the LGBTQ+ community through both innovative public health initiatives and a commitment to diverse hiring to reflect the needs and perspectives of the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ Caucus is proud the budget reflects the state's ongoing commitment to the important work of this office.

● Protection of the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative Public Education and Change Campaign at the California Department of Public Health Office of Health including funding for Community Based Organizations (CBOs) who serve LGBTQ+ youth around the state and a statewide youth mental health program aimed specifically at LGBTQ+ teens and young adults.

● Funding to advance vital LGBTQ+ data collection initiatives at Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), Department of Public Health (CDPH), and Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) which will reduce. This funding will implement system changes to collect voluntary self-identification information pertaining to intersexuality in the course of collecting demographic data and support implementation of required planning by hospitals for increasing the diversity of procured vendors. Data is power and collection of this data will empower the state of California to address and reduce disparities for Californians current and future LGBTQ+ communities.

● Commitments to reinvest a portion of our AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) rebates to better serve all of those living with and at highest risk of HIV/AIDS by modernizing our ADAP and its associated programs to increase eligibility, ensure more timely access to medication, and increase the amount of insurance premium coverage, as well as investing in our harm reduction clearinghouse and providing support for communities disproportionally impacted by HIV/AIDS, namely our transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex community. Once these changes have been implemented, California will continue to be a national leader with an ADAP program that acknowledges the needs of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 21st century and moves us closer to achieving our goals of ending the HIV epidemic. Equally important is the statutory commitment from the 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.

"While we recognize the challenging backdrop of this year's budget shortfall, this budget is still a testament to our state's dedication to equity and inclusion," added Hon. Assemblymember Christopher Ward, Vice Chair of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus. "The legislature faced many tough decisions, but I'm proud that we maintained our commitment to LGBTQ+ priorities. By maintaining and expanding support for LGBTQ+ initiatives, we are taking vital steps to ensure that all Californians, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, have access to the resources they need to thrive. I look forward to seeing growth in these programs in more favorable budget cycles."

California is home to an estimated 1.16M LGBTQ+ youth1. Mental and behavioral health is a topic that disproportionately impacts all of these LGBTQ+ youth in CA. In 2020 the CDC reported that LGBTQ+ youth are TWICE as likely to experience persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness compared to their non-LGBTQ counterparts2. We know that 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24, with suicide being the third leading cause of death for ages 10-243. In 2022, 73% of LGBTQ+ youth reported experiencing anxiety (an increase from 68% in 2020), 58% reporting experiencing depression (an increase from 55% in 2020), and an alarming 45% reported considering suicide (an increase from 40% in 2020)4. With all of these factors we know that mental distress in LGBTQ+ youth is linked to mental illness in adult years6, further intensifying the urgency for early intervention that can both save lives and save the state billions later in life.

"We thank the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus for their leadership in ensuring our youth have access to critical mental health services and supports throughout California. The Coalition also thanks the Legislature for its work during this difficult budget year in preserving these programs and we urge the Governor to sign this version of the budget. Together we are determined to continue this important work in service to our communities," said Brandon Tate, President of the Youth Mental Health Equity Coalition.

"The End the Epidemics coalition is appreciative that this Legislature, and specifically the LGBTQ+ Caucus, has both championed our advocacy and directed a portion of the rebate dollars to allow for critical program modernizations and expansions while creating protective pay-back guardrails. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program and its associated services continue to be a critical lifeline for underinsured, uninsured, and vulnerable Californians to access lifesaving medications for treatment and prevention. Enabling the program to serve more people by expanding its eligibility criteria is simply the right thing to do. We look forward to our continued work with the Legislature and Administration to secure these important priorities and strengthen California's efforts to end the epidemic." The Legislative LGBTQ Caucus extends its sincere gratitude to the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee and the Assembly Budget Committee members and staff, and all the advocates who worked tirelessly to prioritize the needs of the LGBTQ+ community in this year's budget. As we celebrate these victories, we remain committed to continuing our work to advance equality and support for all LGBTQ+ individuals in California. We now look forward to Governor Newsom's signature on AB 107 so that state agencies and Californians can get back to work immediately. With the delays and uncertainty created by the state budget shortfall, we hope the passage of the 2024-25 2 Centers for Disease Control.

About the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus
The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus comprises state legislators who advocate for the rights and well-being of LGBTQ individuals throughout California. The Caucus works to advance legislation and initiatives that promote equality, protect civil rights, and improve the lives of LGBTQ Californians.

About the End the Epidemics Coalition
Californians Mobilizing to End HIV, STIs, Viral Hepatitis, and Overdose (ETE) is a statewide coalition that advocates for anti-racist policies and funding priorities to eliminate health inequities among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) while working collaboratively to end the syndemic of HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), viral hepatitis, and overdose in California.

About the Youth Mental Health Equity Coalition
The Youth Mental Health Equity Coalition is comprised of more than 30 community-based, non-profit and partner organizations throughout California focused on providing mental health resources to families and youth. The coalition represents the diverse needs, regions and cultures of the California families they strive to serve. Coalition members include: African Communities Public Health Coalition, Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, CORE Community Organized Relief Effort, El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center, Healing Early Adverse Relationships, Transforming Systems, Hlub Hmong Center, Ci4Ci, Hmong Cultural Center of Butte County, Indian Health Council, Institute for Public Strategies, Latino Service Providers, LGBTQ+ Collaborative, Little Tokyo Service Center, Public Health Institute, Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance, Rescue Agency, RYSE, SAC Connect, Sacramento LGBT Community Center, Sacramento Native American Health Center, Safe Passages, San Joaquin Pride Center, San Ysidro Health, Special Service for Groups, Inc., RALLY, Baru, Si2, Alliance for Community Wellness dba La Familia, The AMAAD Institute, The Los Angeles Trust for Children's Health, Aspiranet, The Village Project, United Women of East Africa Support Team, Youth Transforming Justice, Opening the World, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California.