Proposed Bill Targets Early Childhood Health, Education Program
Sen. Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks) this week announced legislation to eliminate the First 5 California program, established in 1998 when voters passed Proposition 10, the California Children and Families Act.
First 5, an early childhood health and education program funded by a 50-cent state tobacco tax increase, has $2.4 billion in reserve, according to Cox. That money looks especially appealing to cash-strapped lawmakers struggling with a $17 billion budget deficit.
Cox has raised questions about the First 5 program's spending and argues that California would be better off dividing the money among cities, counties, school districts and the state.
And Cox isn't alone in looking at voter-approved initiatives' reserves this year.
Earlier this month, Senate Minority Leader Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto) proposed taking funds from three measures with a combined reserve of about $6 billion. In addition to First 5, he mentioned Proposition 63, the 2004 measure that increased the state income tax on high-income Californians to provide funds for mental health services, and Proposition 42, which provides funds for transportation projects.
Budget talks are sure to continue. In the meantime, here's a rundown of recent action on health care legislation.