Public Health budget update
Message to Public Health employees from Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health - Seattle & King County
From: Hayes, Patty
Sent: Monday, September 26, 2016 1:26 PM
To: ZZDept Public Health
Subject: Budget Update from Patty Hayes
By now I hope you have read Executive Constantine's message on his budget priorities for the 2017/2018 biennium. I wanted to follow up on his message with some more detail about how Public Health fits into the overall King County budget. Reflecting back two years ago when our budget was in such crisis that we were faced with deep cuts, I am relieved to say that although our budget submittal this year does reflect loss of grant work that is ending, we are not facing huge reductions or changes to our services. Moreover, this budget supports Executive Constantine's commitment to ensuring that King County is a workplace that supports employee development and career opportunity. It also emphasizes the value of our equity and social justice work, both in our workplaces and in the communities that we serve.
Like King County as a whole, Public Health faces challenges and opportunities ahead. Thanks to the hard work by many of you as well as the support of leadership across the county, we were able to develop a budget that continues our critical work, and because of great successes like Best Starts for Kids, we have funding to shore up many of our services for children and families. BSK implementation is just getting underway now, and it's a wonderful feeling to know that this investment will soon begin to benefit so many of our residents.
At the same time, state and federal underinvestment in public health as a whole means that many of our essential public health activities like communicable disease control and chronic disease prevention/injury prevention are inadequately funded. Even routine activities are becoming a challenge - just this month, we have been dealing with multiple, simultaneous, and complex outbreak investigations and responses that have stretched us beyond our capacity. I have been messaging that to our leadership.
The Executive's budget will advance our work in becoming a best-run government, ensuring that we are continuously improving and delivering more value to our customers. While we continually work to find efficiencies and be as effective as possible with the funds that we do have, inadequate funding impacts our ability to deliver disease prevention and promotion services that we know our residents deserve and expect. The gap continues to widen each year between the cost of delivering services and the revenue we receive to pay for them. As I have said, we need a long term stable funding source for Public Health by 2019, or this challenge will only grow and worsen the risk to the public's health.
We are not alone in our need for appropriate funding for Public Health. As I've mentioned to you before, there is a statewide effort underway that will ask the Washington Legislature to take seriously this problem that every county shares, and to fund Foundational Public Health Services (FPHS) in a more sustainable and predictable way. Over this next legislative session, the state Department of Health and the Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials will ask the Legislature to begin to address our funding problems and give local health departments and communities some relief. Please stay tuned for updates from me on our progress with FPHS.
Over the next two months, the King County Council will discuss and deliberate on the Executive's proposed 2017/2018 budget. The final budget will be adopted in November. Thank you for the work that each of you do to improve the health and well-being of King County residents.
Patty Hayes, RN, MN
Public Health – Seattle & King County
For more information, visit: 2015/2016 adopted budget.