First 5 Los Angeles Next in Line To File Lawsuit Over Funding Shift
On Thursday, the First 5 Los Angeles Commission announced plans to sue the state over recently passed legislation (AB 99) that would shift $1 billion from First 5 funding to state health services, California Watch reports.
Earlier this month, First 5 commissions in Fresno, Madera, Merced and Orange counties filed lawsuits against the funding shift (Lin, California Watch, 4/15).
In 1998, California voters approved Proposition 10, which imposed a tax on cigarettes to raise funds for First 5. State and county-level First 5 commissions use the tax revenue to fund early childhood health and education programs.
In March, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed AB 99 as part of a state spending package. The legislation authorizes the state to take about half of each First 5 commission's fund balance as of July 30. State officials said the funds would go toward children's services under Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program (California Healthline, 4/5).
Under state law, the Legislature can modify Prop. 10 with a two thirds majority vote if the changes are consistent with the intent of the proposition.
In the earlier lawsuits, the four county First 5 commissions argued that the funding shift runs contrary to the intent of Prop. 10 because it would replace existing health services without voter approval.
First 5 Los Angeles plans to offer the same argument in its lawsuit. The Los Angeles commission receives the largest portion of Prop. 10 funding each year and stands to lose more than $424 million from the funding shift.
Other First 5 Commissions Mulling Litigation
First 5 commissions in Riverside and Solano counties have recommended that their county boards pursue litigation against the funding shift.
First 5 Kern also is considering filing or joining a lawsuit (California Watch, 4/15).
In a Woodland Daily Democrat opinion piece, Katie Villegas -- executive director of the Yolo County Children's Alliance and Child Abuse Prevention Council -- writes that Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) has authored legislation (SB 486) that would "shut down all the First 5 commissions in California and hijack the money for the state's general fund."
Villegas adds that "thousands of young Yolo County children and their families will lose critical and basic services" if the First 5 commissions are abolished (Villegas, Woodland Daily Democrat, 4/14).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.