First 5 Director Urges Supporters To Lobby Against Funding Cuts
On Wednesday, Sherry Novick, the executive director of First 5 California Children and Families Commission, encouraged supporters in inland Southern California to call on state legislators to oppose proposals to shift funds from First 5, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
First 5 administers proceeds of a state tobacco tax increase to fund early childhood health care and education programs.Â Twenty percent of its funding goes to the state commission, and the remainder goes to county commissions.
The tobacco tax increase generates about $580 million annually (Santschi, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/21).
As part of his plan to address the state's growing budget deficit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has proposed eliminating the state First 5 Commission and shifting its funds to the state general fund for children's programs.Â
The move also would shift half of the funds that 58 county First 5 commissions currently hold to the state general fund.Â The governor projects that the plan would save the state $275 million.
In December 2008, Republicans legislators put forth a plan that would seek voter approval to reallocate $2.1 billion from First 5 reserves (California Healthline, 1/13).
Novick said state legislators do not fully understand how First 5 funds are allocated, adding that the program holds some funds in reserve to account for multiyear contracts.In addition, Novick said the commission needs to build reserves because funding for the program will decrease as smoking rates continue to decline (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/21). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.