Public Health asks for $17 million less for FY 2022 budget

DPHSS director Art San Agustin testifies during his agency's budget hearing. (PNC video capture)

The legislature held a budget hearing Thursday morning for the Department of Public Health and Social Services, which is asking for a significantly lesser budget for fiscal year 2022.

Public Health is requesting around $53.5 million in local funding and $44.5 million in federal grants in aid for an overall public health budget of $98.05 million for fiscal year 2022.

The $53.5 million includes a general fund request of 36.5 million.

Speaker Therese Terlaje pointed out that Public Health requested $17 million less in general fund revenues for fiscal year 2022.

DPHSS director Art San Agustin said that they were given a projected ceiling for their general fund request and the amount reflected that.

Terlaje says that since the agency budget is still not finalized, DPHSS should request based on their actual need.

Tommy Taitague, DPHSS administrative services officer, gave a breakdown of the budget.

“For a good portion of that amount, around 94 percent, is going to be provided to the Division of Public Welfare coming in at $82.079 million. The large portion of the amount is for the Division of Senior Citizens, which provides for 6 percent or 6.2 percent. For the Division of General Administration, 5 percent or $4.567 million,” Taitague said.

Taitague rounded up the rest of the breakdown, with a proposed allocation of $2.9 million for the Division of Public Health and $2.2 million for Environmental Health.

Director San Agustin also reported on the agency’s personnel needs. He says Public Health has 194 vacancies, 114 of which are funded and 80 unfunded.

“In our staffing pattern, we have a list of vacant positions with a list of assigned position numbers based on our budget for the operations of their respective programs and their divisions,” San Agustin said.