Public Forum Transcript: Governor Newsom’s 2020-2021 Proposed Budget

Moderator: Connie Nakano
January 13, 2020
11:00 am PT


Good afternoon and thank you for standing by. I’d like to inform all participants that your lines have been placed on a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer session of today’s call. Today’s call is also being recorded. If anyone has any objections, you may disconnect at this time. I would now like to turn the call over to Connie Nakano. Thank you. You may begin.

Connie Nakano:

Good morning everyone. Thank you all for calling in today. We apologize for the brief delay this morning. My name is Connie Nakano and I am the Public Information Officer for the Department of Rehabilitation. The purpose of today’s call is to share with you provisions of Governor Newsom’s 2020- 2021 budget proposal with respect to funding of DOR administered programs. After the summary, we’ll have some time for questions and comments. We’ll let you know when that time is open. And right now, I would like to introduce our director, Joe Xavier.

Joe Xavier:         

Thank you, Connie. Good morning everyone. Before we get started, operator, I just want to do a quick sound check and make sure that we’re coming through okay. Operator, are you able to hear us?


Yes, sir. Loud and clear.

Joe Xavier:

All right. Well, thank you. I appreciate that. So, my apologies we’re getting started a little bit late. My big foot kicked the plug for the phone and so that got us to dial back in. Greetings to all of you. Happy New Year. Here we are at the beginning of 2020. As Connie said, we really want to share some information with you.

But first I want to welcome all of you and thank you for making time from your otherwise busy schedules so that we can have an opportunity to share information with you.

There are a good number of our partners on the phone and really appreciate having you on the phone. But most of all, our partnership. We cannot do the work that we’re doing without you being out there doing what you’re doing. So, thank you for that.

Here in our conference room we have a number of our senior leaders that will both be sharing information with you as well as listening to you firsthand and any comments or questions that you have.

We have a number of the membership of our boards and committees. So, welcome. Thank you for being on the line, as well.

The operator-assisted calls do not always offer us that face-to-face, but they are away for us to effectively engage with you.

We have some 60 phone lines active. And, as you can imagine, there’re multiple people at the end of those lines.

As always, we get to share with you information, but more importantly, we get to hear from you, our community, to make sure that we’re accounting for your thinking and your comments on the work that we have going before us.

And I’ll remind you again at the end of the call, but these conversations, of course, will also continue through the engagement with our boards and committees.

And, as you know, this is our ongoing commitment to being transparent and sharing information with you.

So, last week, the Governor’s press conference really spoke thoroughly to what the Governor’s priorities are and what is in the budget. So, we obviously are not going to recant all that.

But there are a number of priorities that the Governor outlined, some of which I just want to highlight here that are specific for people with disabilities. At the same time, the agency’s stakeholder call last Friday did the same thing.

And, again, we just want to highlight what are some of the things. One of the things that I want to remind all of you is, the notice that you received about the forum, contained links to more detailed information that will be useful for you, not only as you hear today’s conversation, but as tomorrow and the next day, when you’re thinking about what are the details underlining some of this. You’ll have that as a resource to go to.

One of the things we’ll also do, of course, is provide some budget information that is specific to the Department of Rehabilitation and, in turn, it may be of interest to all of you.

One of the things that I want to also remind everyone is the Governor’s ongoing message and the call for a California for All. And I think that’s an important aspect of what is framed in the budget.

And we certainly know that our agency’s principles and strategic priorities are major drivers that we see reflected throughout the agency budget, and in fact, in our own budget.

Systems coordination, collaboration and partnerships are an essential element of both the Governor and the agency’s work. It allows us to work collectively with each other to have a greater impact.

And then, again, as a reminder, the work on the budget before us today really started a year ago and, as you’ll hear later from Kelly, there’s still another six months to go before we have a budget in place.

So, what are some of the Governor’s priorities specific to the Department of Rehabilitation that I just will emphasize here? One is we have a $484 million budget.

One of every seven jobs created in the United States was created in California. I think that speaks well for the work that we collectively, as a state, have been doing.

It contemplates the potential of a looming recession. It builds reserves and reduces liability. It addresses the affordability crisis. And it confronts that homelessness crisis.

It also promotes the opportunity for all consistent with the Governor’s message and, of course, it includes jobs, the economy and the environment as priorities.

From the agency perspective, it collectively addresses and advances building a healthier California for All. It ensures social and economic mobility for California citizens.

And while it drives toward an integrated system, it also addresses equity for the services and for the people who receive the services of the Health and Human Services agency.

It, of course, promotes person-centered and whole person care through data integration and we’ll talk a little bit about that. And then it transforms healthcare services through the Medi-Cal Healthier California for All.

It lowers prescription drugs and it integrates behavior health services. Of course, as I mentioned already, it also does some additional work around the homeless – or not additional work, but work from what the Governor laid out for the budget as a whole.

Let me talk about three specific pieces of the budget that I think would be noteworthy for you to have. One is the budget is creating a department of early childhood development and it ensures that early childhood has both affordable and equitable access to that opportunity.

And it also recognizes that social services are an integral part of the early childhood development experience. Children with disabilities become adults with disabilities.

And establishing an expectation that they can go to work, establishing the expectation or the opportunity to live in their community of choice for purpose of dignity I think is a key aspect that we will keep in mind as we engage with this newly created department to really go upstream and start shaping those expectations and those opportunities for youth with disabilities.

The budget also contains a provision for developmental services finance reform. The details of that are in the budget. And it’s really going to be done in collaboration with a number of taskforces and the community.

But really – what I want to call out about that is that it establishes a system to prioritize financing based on outcomes and based on impacts.

And so there’s the performance incentives program that is being established for the regional center system.

Why do I call that out? Because funding is an issue for all programs and services. We certainly have heard from all of you across the state, about the need for more funding.

And what I think is important to keep in mind is that this really continues to signal the administration’s intent that funding tracked with both the value and the outcomes of the services that we provide.

And the other element that I want to highlight is data – at the agency level, it’s a center for data insights and innovation. It focuses on person-centered programs really needing data that crosses systems to be able to effectively integrate and the budget really looks to enhance the actionable use of the data that we have across all of the agency departments.

Simply stated, to integrate services, we need to be able to integrate data. There are four key goals that you will see in the budget documents. One, institutionalized analytics to leverage the knowledge and the information.  Two, to develop internal data capacity, to growth those insights. Three, operationalize rapid prototypes to be used in developing programs and services. And four, build analytical excellence to drive our decision-making for our programs and services. Again, why bring this up?

Well, one of the areas that we know here at the Department that we continue to develop and we know we have some room to continue to grow on is how we collect and how we use that data which, by extension, includes all of you that are partners in delivering the services and the programs that we have across the state.

So, what are some of the other items of interest and the benefits to individuals with disabilities in the budget? There are dollars allocated to teachers to get more teachers into the profession, to address training in special education interventions, financial incentives for teachers to go into the special education system, school meals programs, and then Medi-Cal funding increases.

So, again, I mean, it would take us a very long time to cover everything else in the budget. There’s a lot, lot more detail in there. I’m going to stop my comments here.

I’m going to turn this over to Kelly Hargreaves, our chief deputy director, who will speak more specifically to DOR-related budgets and give you some additional information. So, Kelly, over to you.

Kelly Hargreaves:       

Thank you, Joe. I’d like to also acknowledge you for participating in this call. I think we are all better at what we do when we’re informed. And we know you have busy schedules, appreciate you having the interest in the Governor’s budget and, in particular, in those items that will improve the lives of persons with disabilities.

In addition to our stakeholders, we also have many of our employees who are listening in on this call.

And it’s really – I’m really proud to be part of a department that is led by a Director who really emphasizes the importance of a two-way conversation that, since Joe was appointed to be the Director, we have made a practice of having these public forums and providing an opportunity for comments and questions.

And also providing you with additional resources so that, at the end of a call that’s not where our conversation ends but where you have the names of those people who you need to reach out to if you want to talk more or later.

This call includes people that have a variety of understanding of the state budget process, so for those of you that are really very astute with regards to the process, bear with me, because I’m – I’ll do my best to also provide some basic information for those who are not as familiar with it.

So, the Governor’s budget is required to be provided to the legislature by law on January 10th of each year. And this Governor’s proposal isn’t exactly what it will look like by the time July rolls around when it becomes effective because there’s a lot of gathering of public input.

There are hearings, budget hearings, based on primarily focusing on the actual funding and the impact to the state of any new proposals and continuing funding.

And that’s where you have the right to speak at hearings and to show your support. Support has very often been the basis for maintaining a proposal in the Governor’s budget, and even sometimes improving or increasing the funding of budget proposals.

So, where your passion is, really encourage you to do that. It’s made quite a difference, for example, with our traumatic brain injury program, our stakeholders who were quite passionate and explained to those who were listening, the legislature who didn’t have first-hand knowledge to really understand the significance of the program.

So, the Governor’s budget reflects really bold initiatives, as Joe mentioned, that reflect California for All. And at the same time, he is mindful that if not a recession, that at least we have a slowing down of the economy and we want to still be cautious, cautious with our funding.

And so, while we would love to be on this call and tell you that we have massive increases to provide, you know, all of the support that we could possibly provide to the state, we’re not in that position, but we’re very thankful that it is a priority for our programs to continue and, in fact, add at least a little bit of additional funding to deal with really pressing items.

Notably, among the programs that continue, is the traumatic brain injury program, which had been slated to sunset or to end in 2014. And that, of course, the sunset has been removed. *Transcript corrected after the call

And we continue to have appropriations or funding to fund the seven sites throughout the states operated by our community partners’ grants of $150,000 each.

The timeline for the budget is beginning July 1. So, presuming that is signed off by the Governor and everything follows – everybody follows the rules, anyway, all of this funding is speaking to what is available to the state beginning on July 1 through June 30 of 2021, and that’s known as the state fiscal year.

So, sometimes things are based on a federal fiscal year, but this state budget is the state fiscal year. So, we’re currently operating in the budget that was passed last spring.

So, the Department of Finance as the Governor’s principal financial advisor, is the department that leads this budget process following the policies set out by the Governor.

And the Department of Finance will participate in all the budget hearings and will be available there for questions for the public as well as public hearings are held.

So, if you would like to have more information about the budget process and want to educate yourself more in terms of the steps that occur, the many steps between now and July 1, the Department of Finance does have a simple explanation of the process as well as a flowchart on their Webpage and they’re at

Our department budget is $484 million, which is an increase of $5.3 million from last year. That’s comprised primarily of federal grant funds that we received for vocational rehabilitation.

So, $395 million is federal funds, $76 million is the state general fund, and $13 million is other funds, much which is contributed from our community partners.

So, the state budget has to reflect all spending, whether or not it comes from the state or whether or not it comes from grants outside of the state. And even as to our express approval for departments to be reimbursed by other departments.

So, it’s really the one-stop-shop where you see where all the money is coming in and where all the money is going out.

That dollar amount that I gave you, of course, includes the money for the traumatic brain injury program that I mentioned which is funded at $1.2 million.

The Department continues to have almost 1,900 positions, most of those are in providing direct services to consumers.

The two primary topic areas of additions to our budget include funding to enhance information technology to better serve the whole person concept, so linking us with other departments and other systems and to protect personal, private information.

And Valerie Stanfield – of our Information Technology Services Division will provide more information about that particular budget proposal which is among those for which there will be public hearings, and again, we invite your public comment.

And then, another budget enhancement that is in the Governor’s budget is reimbursement authority, for us to recoup funds for services that we provide to the community through funds available from the California Public Utilities Commission.

So, thank you for your attention to this. And at this point, Valerie, will you share information on our funding for the new concepts with regard to privacy as well as to the cross-departmental planning?

Valerie Stanfield:

Thank you, Kelly. Sure. I’d like to thank all of you for this opportunity to share with you about DOR’s recently approved budget change proposal for IT.

As you know, cybercrime and security threats are increasing exponentially as more technology is developed and released into the world’s ecosystem. And this makes protection of our personal information today very essential.

DOR maintains a variety of records for our consumers, applicants, community partners, advisory body members and its own employee data, personal data, which all requires strong security and privacy protections and controls.

The Governor’s budget includes an additional $670,000 to fund four additional DOR employees.

Three of these employees are to identify strategies and implement processes designed to protect consumer’s and stakeholder’s personal information which gives DOR a total of six employees dedicated specifically to security and privacy functions.

The additional positions will help us strengthen the Department’s ability to secure and protect our personal information for all our consumers and our stakeholders.

Additionally, DOR is transitioning to use more cloud-based technologies. The cloud technologies are constantly evolving, changing and improving and these include security enhancements as well.

This creates an ongoing need to determine if these technologies fit DOR’s program strategy and the CHHS and state initiatives securely and strategically.

The last employee included in the $670,000 is to increase the pace of adopting new technologies that are used to deliver services to our consumers and stakeholders and to plan the retirement of older technologies that also support the Department.

This person – this employee – will help support the CHHS principle whole person care by ensuring existing and new systems communicate and integrate to exchange information while adhering to technology standards.

 And with that, I’d like to introduce Victor Duron, the Deputy Director of Independent Living and Community Access Division.

Victor Duron:      

Thank you so much, Valerie, and thank you to everyone who’s joining us this morning and for this opportunity to share with you a little bit about DOR’s recently approved budget change proposal regarding our partnership with the CPUC, which is the California Public Utilities Commission.

The Governor’s budget extends the DOR’s reimbursement authority to allow the DOR and the CPUC to continue an interagency agreement in support of a new pilot program.

The DOR, in partnership with the CPUC deaf and disabled telecommunications program, is launching a statewide version of a regional pilot that the CPUC had previously conducted.

This pilot provides tablets or similar devices and speech-generating apps or software to individuals with speech-related disabilities so they will have the full access and use of telephone communication networks.

And I want to take a moment to give a big thanks to all our community partners who helped make that regional pilot a success, that led to the statewide phase of the pilot.

The DOR will provide this service in partnership with community-based organizations with the goal of ensuring statewide service delivery and to continue demonstrating the efficacy and the need for this service.

Service delivery is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2020. And the pilot is expected to run through June 30 of 2021. Now, I’ll turn it back over to Connie Nakano, our Public Information Officer.

Connie Nakano:

Great. Thank you, Victor. At this time, we’re going to get ready to open the lines for any questions or comments that you guys may have.

I will turn it over to the operator who will open the queue and she will follow up with some instructions in terms of how you can get in queue to ask us some questions.


Thank you. To ask a question, please press star followed by one. Please ensure that your phone is unmuted and record your name clearly when prompted. Again, star followed by one to ask a question. And to withdraw your request, please press Star 2.

One moment, please, while we wait for questions to come in. At this time, I am showing no questions on the phone.

Joe Xavier:

So, thank you, operator, for that. I just – you know, I know that this is a lot of information and just wanted to buy a couple of minutes here before we finish the call just in case any of you have any questions on the budget.

There is a lot of detail, you know, I just want to go back. There are those resources that were attached to the event notification that have a lot more detail for you to look at. So, have I bought enough time for any questions? Okay.


At this time, there are no questions on the phone.

Joe Xavier:

All right, Connie.

Connie Nakano:

So, if we don’t have any questions on the phone, do we want to close it?

Joe Xavier:


Connie Nakano:

Okay, great. We want to thank everyone for your time today to calling in. Again, we apologize for the delay we had earlier this morning. If you have any questions that you think of later, feel free to contact us. A transcript will be available on our web site in about seven to ten business days. It will be posted in our latest news section if you would like a copy of that. Thank you again for your time today and we will end this call.