ORANGE COUNTY: Supervisors Reject Tobacco Spending Compromise
Orange County supervisors yesterday rejected by a 3-2 vote a compromise plan that would have allocated 60% of the county's tobacco windfall to health spending and set an annual $40 million minimum on general-fund health spending, the Orange County Register reports. Opponents of the compromise argued it would "set a dangerous precedent" and prevent the county from paying down bankruptcy debt and adding court-ordered jail beds. Instead, they endorsed a plan to split the funds 50-50 between health and other needs. The vote will likely prompt health care advocates to submit a petition, containing more than 115,000 signatures, that supports a ballot initiative requiring the county to spend 80% of the annual $30 million-plus tobacco settlement monies on health. Supporters only needed 71,000 valid voter signatures to place the measure on the Nov. 7 ballot. Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who favored the compromise, said that the ballot initiative is likely to pass. California State University political scientist Sandra Sutphen added that the supervisors are "going to have a lot of difficulty persuading the public that tobacco money shouldn't go for health" (Reed, 5/17).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.