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Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund Co-Sponsors Express Disappointment over Governor Newsom’s Failure to Invest in Community-Driven Approaches to Health Disparities

CA – The Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund (HERJ Fund) Co-Sponsors (listed below) released the following statement in response to Governor Newsom’s May budget revise (FY 2023-2024):

We are deeply disappointed that the Governor’s proposed May Budget Revise failed to stand with marginalized communities and communities of color by leaving out a framework for the Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund (HERJ Fund) to make investments directly to community-based organizations (CBOs), tribal organizations, and clinics working to address health inequities and racism as public health crises.

To successfully address health disparities driven by structural racism and deep rooted social and economic inequities, we must advance systemic change. CBOs are indispensable partners in identifying the most pressing health equity and racial justice issues in their communities. They know their neighbors’ distinct needs, are fluent in every language spoken in California, and know how to implement effective solutions that work at the local level – serving as frontline voices in cities, counties, and to our state.

The HERJ Fund would center the unique and trusted role CBOs have nurtured over decades of service. It is beyond time California trusts a “by the community, for community approach” that is successful and life-changing. The COVID State of Emergency may be ending, but its effects persist – especially for those communities that bore the brunt of the pandemic. California State agencies relied on the expertise and knowledge of CBOs to help stem the impacts of COVID-19. It’s time to enlist their service again!

We recognize and support the Governor’s ongoing commitment to health equity, particularly the expansion of coverage and care of the most vulnerable Medi-Cal beneficiaries. The HERJ Fund is fully aligned with the Governor’s vision for a more equitable California, and is a critical missing component to ensuring all residents have a comprehensive public health infrastructure.

We also recognize the fiscal constraints of a tight budget year – and respect the difficult position this puts lawmakers in. For that reason, we propose the establishment of the HERJF framework in law which can then receive future public or private appropriations as the State’s budgetary outlook improves. After all, Californians – especially those living in low-income communities and communities of color – are struggling with far greater challenges than “fiscal constraints.” Many Californians struggle to house and  feed their families, and to stay healthy and safe while navigating an unjust system that fails to provide them with their fundamental right to achieve optimal health. For these communities, justice can’t wait.

We, along with our 230 supporting organizations and CBO partners, look forward to working with the Senate and Assembly, both of whom have overwhelmingly supported our Fund the past two years, as well as the Governor, to ensure the Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund is in the June budget.


Full list of co-sponsors:

  • Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL)
  • Black Leadership Council
  • Black Women for Wellness Action Project
  • California Alliance of Academics and Communities for Public Health Equity
  • California Black Health Network
  • California Black Women’s Health Project
  • California Latinas for Reproductive Justice
  • California Pan-Ethnic Health Network
  • Cultiva La Salud
  • Latino Coalition for a Healthy California
  • National Health Law Program
  • Public Health Advocates
  • Public Health Institute
  • Roots Community Health Center