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Advocates worry as proposed budget cuts threaten public health funding

Among Gov. Gavin Newsom's proposed budget cuts is $300 million dollars in annual funding for the state’s Future of Public Health initiative. That includes a $14 million cut for San Diego County.

The program started in 2022, to help public health departments address local needs. It filled 900 positions statewide, including communicable disease investigators, nurses and lab staff. Advocates say that, without the funding, hundreds of those positions could be jeopardized.

San Diego public health nurse Michelle Zittlau-Johnson worries that the consequences go beyond the possibility of losing staff and resources.


“Not only do I think about my fellow co-workers possibly losing their positions, but I think about the people in our community that are the most vulnerable where we will not be able to serve them like we have and they will be suffering the most,” she said.

She said it’s not just about preventing another pandemic.

“It's that everyday bacteria that we are battling to keep from becoming something that will really hurt our community,” she said.

San Diego County officials are currently assessing the effects of the proposed cuts, but say it will impact delays in responding to communicable diseases, preventing zoonotic diseases and performing beach water testing.

The Legislature has to approve the budget by June 15.