First 5 Groups Uncertain About Effects of Brown’s May Budget Revision
California established First 5 in 1998 when voters approved Proposition 10. The initiative imposed a 50 cent tax on tobacco products to fund early childhood health and education programs.
In March, Brown signed budget legislation (AB 99) that authorized the state to take $1 billion from First 5's reserve funds (Lin, California Watch, 5/20). Â State officials said the funds would go toward children's services under Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program (California Healthline, 5/3).
Eight county-level First 5 commissions have sued the state over the funding shift and other county commissions are considering such action (California Watch, 5/20). Â
May Revise Causing Confusion
However, the May revision of Brown's budget plan assumes that the state will not receive $1 billion from local First 5 commissions because of the pending lawsuits (California Healthline, 5/17).
Sherry Novick -- executive director of the First 5 Association of California -- said First 5 commissions now are "in a weird limbo position" because they are unsure whether to trim their budgets to prepare for the funding shift.
H.D. Palmer, spokesperson for the state Department of Finance, said the Brown administration is exercising "fiscal prudence" by assuming that the First 5 money will get tied up in litigation. Palmer added that the state will not shift any First 5 funds while the lawsuits are pending (California Watch, 5/20).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.