First 5 Supporters Gear Up To Oppose Perata’s Tobacco Tax Measure
Supporters of California's First 5 early childhood health and education program are denouncing a proposed ballot initiative that they say would deplete First 5's share of tobacco tax revenue, the Oakland Tribune reports.
The state created the First 5 program in 1998 after voters approved Proposition 10. The measure raised cigarette taxes by 50 cents per pack to fund health care and education programs for children up to age five.
Earlier this week, 2010 Oakland mayoral candidate and former Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D) proposed a ballot initiative that would add an additional one dollar per pack tax to fund cancer research and anti-smoking programs.
Critics say Perata's California Cancer Research Act would curb smoking considerably and thus drain First 5's revenue stream. They note that the proposed ballot measure does not include a "backfill" provision to help offset First 5's projected losses.
However, Perata's initiative does include backfill provisions to help replenish two previous tobacco tax allocations.Paul Hefner, Perata campaign consultant, said the authors of the new ballot measure decided against backfilling the First 5 fund. He said, "We came down on the side of providing the greatest possible support for research that will save lives and protect Californians, and we think our proposal made the right call" (Richman, Oakland Tribune, 11/17). 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.