Generations of struggle require generations of investment. The passage of Measure J is an inspiring start.

Measure J, which changes the county’s charter to dedicate 10% of the county’s budget to a “care first, jails last” approach, represents the first time voters anywhere in California have chosen to permanently shape their county budget through a racial justice lens.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles is proud to be part of this measure to “Reimagine LA” and the coalition who had the vision to move investments upstream for jobs, housing, healthcare, mental health, services and care, and we are grateful for the work of Los Angeles’s Black, Brown and low-income residents whose resilience, voice and faith in change led us to this watershed moment.

Measure J shows how our public budgets can and should represent the values we share, and how the community should have a seat at the table in how taxpayer dollars are invested. Voters recognize that our current system is not working, when our jails are filled with people suffering from mental health issues, addiction and over-policing. This measure creates a more effective way of investing in Black and Brown communities that have suffered disproportionately.

We have known for a long time that our communities need mental health services, housing, workforce development, and alternatives to incarceration. In this election, voters demanded change and were able to convert their protests into meaningful action. Our commitment to this issue doesn’t end with the success of this ballot measure. Diligent implementation, with the County government and the community together, will deliver a more just and inclusive Los Angeles County.

There are too many people to thank in this amazing coalition who had the courage, vision and fortitude to Reimagine LA—listed here—and especially our campaign's co-chairs, Eunisses Hernandez and Isaac Bryan.

The well-meaning should always be challenged to “put their money where their mouth is.” Naming structural racism is a first step to undoing it; the next step is to embed our values at the heart of our budget.