The Contra Costa Budget Justice Coalition advocates for community engagement in the Contra Costa County budgeting process and for a set of values-based budgeting principles that support safe and affordable housing, stable employment with fair wages, sufficient healthy food, essential health care, access to critical social services, quality early care and education.
The Coaltion is fiscally sponsored by the Richmond Community Foundation and is funded by the Thomas J. Long Foundation, the Y & H Soda Foundation, and Firedoll Foundation.
HOW IT STARTED
Why budget justice
A group of Contra Costa community leaders began meeting in late 2017 to discuss ways to work together to bring a stronger community voice to the County's budgeting process. We observed that a general consensus was emerging that County government would benefit from a more participatory and dynamic process that would ensure that the Board of Supervisors hears from an engaged community on service priorities to inform the annual budget. At the same time, community stakeholders can engage in more effective budget advocacy when equipped with a factual understanding of how the budget works and what restraints are placed on the County from its state and federal funding sources.
As Contra Costa and other counties face possible funding cuts from policy changes emanating from Washington, DC and Sacramento, it will become even more incumbent on the County to fully engage with the community on budget values, priorities and process.
The Contra Costa Budget Justice Coalition launched in January 2018 with 15 members. We now have 25 members, and the Coalition continues to grow and evolve.
We believe . . .
Our work is informed by shared values that guide our efforts:
- Everyone benefits when we all have what we need to live and thrive.
- Contra Costa would benefit from “values-based budgeting” principles that support safe and affordable housing, stable employment with fair wages, sufficient healthy food, essential health care, access to critical social services, and quality early care and education.
- An open and transparent budget process with opportunities for stakeholder input serves the interests of all Contra Costa residents.
- The primary purpose of a county budget is to offer a strong social safety net. Through the budget, the County should strive to address economic, racial and gender inequities, reduce barriers to success, promote healthy families, prioritize crime prevention over incarceration, and meet the needs of all residents, regardless of immigration status.
What we've been up to
Since the founding organizers began meeting in December 2017, the Coalition has grown to 25 members and has accomplished the following:
- The Coalition publicly launched on January 30, 2018 at the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors’ annual budget retreat.
- We conducted a survey of community needs and priorities which received almost 400 responses in four days. Highlights of the findings were presented to the Board of Supervisors. Almost 50 respondents expressed interest in getting involved in the Coalition’s work.
- We’ve held productive meetings with individual members of the Board of Supervisors and the County Administrator and Department heads, and have secured their initial support of our efforts. We are exploring revenue generating strategies and possible forums for educating the community about County budgeting.
- Two budget workshops for Coalition members and others were held in March. Topics include county budgeting basics, characteristics of Contra Costa’s budget, opportunities for innovation, and advocacy strategies. Supervisor Karen Mitchoff is joined us for the opening of the Coalition’s budget workshops in March, and Dr. William Walker, Health Officer with the Health Services Department and Kathy Gallagher, Director of the Employment and Human Services Department joined us for the second workshop.
We’ve formalized a governance structure, including a Steering Committee.
- We are in the process of developing strategies and proposals to create structures and processes to engage in the 2019-2020 budgeting cycle.