Judge says L.A. County’s voter-approved effort to divert funds to social justice unconstitutional

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Protests over police brutality and the police killing of George Floyd took place for weeks across Los Angeles in the summer of 2020. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Protests over police brutality and the police killing of George Floyd took place for weeks across Los Angeles in the summer of 2020. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has declared that Measure J, which county voters approved last year to set aside public funds for social services and jail diversion programs, is unconstitutional.

In a proposed ruling Thursday, Judge Mary Strobel said the amendment to the county’s charter improperly restricts the L.A. County Board of Supervisors from deciding how and where to spend county funds. Strobel said at a court hearing that she expects to make the ruling final in coming weeks.

The measure, which passed easily, requires that 10% of locally generated, unrestricted county money — an estimated $300 million each year — be spent on services such as housing, mental health treatment and investments in communities harmed by racism. The measure prohibits the county from using the money on prisons, jails or law enforcement agencies.

The current board or any future board, the judge said, could adopt a budget with those spending priorities — but it can’t be forced to.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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