Prop 1D: Children's Services Funding


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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, May 4, 2009

In two weeks, California voters will decide whether lawmakers can use tobacco tax revenues to help close the state’s budget gap.
Right now, a lot of that money goes to early childhood development programs.  But Proposition 1D would temporarily change that.   

Capital Public Radio's Steve Shadley reports... 

 
Leticia Alejandrez is not a fan of Prop 1D.  She’s the Executive Director of the Family Resource Association.  The group is fighting 1D.  They want to protect existing funds for the state’s development programs for kids five and under… known as “First Five”. The programs are funded by the state’s tobacco tax…  
  
“First Five is one of the few if any investments in prevention for young children.  And, if that goes away…it goes away.  There’s no backfill…” 

 
Prop 1D would cut “First Five” funding by 268-million dollars each of the next five years.  It shifts money to the state’s general fund to help balance the budget.  It also would allow the state to tap into 340-million dollars from “First Five’s” reserves.  The money would pay for OTHER state services for children instead…including foster care, preschool and health care… 
(sound of capitol rally) “shout out where we’re from.  Sacramento.  Orange County…”  (collective shouts up and under) 
  
About 80-percent of “First Five” funds are distributed to counties.
Child care providers from across California recently held a rally at the state capitol urging voters to reject 1D.  Rosie Alcantara teaches pre-school in Stockton… 
  
“We feel that right now in these economic times children really need their services and without that funding the whole state of California would lose and it would lose big…”
 
But supporters of 1D say taxpayers already are losing big.    Sacramento area Republican State Senator Dave Cox says state and county First Five commissions have more than 2.5 billion dollars in unspent funds… 
  
“The state of California today has needs.  This is a redirection over a period of five years and we just simply think that this is a better way to spend the money that is being collected in taxes now…”
 
Cox says the measure makes changes that provide lawmakers with more oversight of how the money is spent, while boosting the state’s general fund… 
  
“While there may be some First Five Commissions getting the job done…there are a significant number of other “First Five” commissions that are not using that money well…”
 
Opponents and supporters of Prop 1D agree on one thing.  As more people quit smoking, the tobacco tax will be a declining revenue source for “First Five.”  Both sides say finding a more stable source of funding is a challenge they’ll face in the future.