PROPOSITION 10: Children’s Advocates Eager to Spend Funds
The Children and Families First Commission in Alameda County outlined ideas yesterday for allocating the revenue generated by California's new 50-cents-a-pack cigarette tax, including child care worker training, home-visit programs for first-time mothers and funds for nonprofit and school programs for children. The tax stands to raise about $20 million a year for Alameda County children's programs and $700 million statewide. Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, chair of the commission, said, "This is a huge step for children. It's $20 million a year, indefinitely. So often we get grants or state funding, and we start up a wonderful program and then the money is gone in a few years." But Proposition 10, which increased the cigarette tax, faces some opposition as the owners of Cigarettes Cheaper stores launched a signature drive that put an initiative to repeal the tax on the March 2000 ballot. Chan said, "We want to hurry in Alameda County and start spending this money so people will see the benefits and vote to keep the tobacco tax intact" (May, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/15).
A Healthy Boost
In addition, the county supervisors yesterday announced that all of the nearly $450 million the county will receive from the tobacco settlement will be allocated to health programs, the Contra Costa Times reports. The announcement came after an "intensive lobbying effort" by health care advocates who packed yesterday's meeting. Supervisor Keith Carson said, "Health care has taken the majority of hits fiscally over the last five years. I am highly supportive that these monies go to health care." Although the money has not been specifically earmarked for certain programs, the board indicated that some of the money would go to pay debt service on Highland Hospital's new critical care building (Brewer, 11/17).