In 2009-10, expenditures for health and social services programs in California are estimated to be about $25 billion or 29 percent of statewide General Fund spending. Spending on health and social services programs accounts for 36 percent of total spending when special funds, federal funds, and the General Fund are included. This primer provides an understanding of the overall health and social services expenditures, the workings of major health and social services programs, spending trends in major programs, and the major funding sources for health and social services programs.

This primer and the companion piece The 2010-11 Budget: Health and Social Services—A Restricted Environment provide a framework for policymakers as they make very difficult budget decisions in health and social services.