PROPOSITION 10: Rob Reiner’s Crusade For Children
Yesterday's Los Angeles Times profiled actor/movie director Rob Reiner's campaign for the passage of Proposition 10, a proposal to raise the state cigarette tax an additional 50 cents per pack and use the resulting $700 million in revenue to fund early childhood intervention programs. Prop. 10 would dedicate 20% of the funds "to pay for statewide programs, including a tobacco education program," under the direction of a new "umbrella state commission." The remaining 80% "would be doled out to counties based on their proportion of births in the previous year." Under the direction of "volunteer commissions," counties could use the funds for a wide range of activities, including "prenatal nutrition and day-care programs to filling gaps in child health care and domestic violence prevention systems." The Times reported that Los Angeles County would get $176 million in the first year if Prop. 10 passes, while Orange County stands to receive $50 million and Ventura County $12 million.
A Tough Battle Expected
Reiner has already spent $2 million getting the measure on the ballot and "hopes to raise another $6 million, mostly for television ads." However, Reiner says the Committee Against Unfair Taxes (CAUT), a group formed to oppose Prop. 10 -- plans to spend "$20 million in TV air time in October." The committee denied Reiner's charge, saying it only plans to spend around $2 million. The Times also noted that there are some concerns among state officials about the "umbrella state commission" that the initiative would create to administer the program. According to a State Senate Office of Research report, "it is unclear how the creation of a state commission and county commissions that are outside the control of the governor, the Legislature or county boards of supervisors would be able to create and sustain a coordinated system." While Reiner notes that "a member of the board of supervisors will sit on each of the county commissions to provide oversight," the Times reported that it is worries about the governance issue that the anti-Prop. 10 campaign will target. Nevertheless, Reiner has been successful in recruiting the support of anti-tobacco groups such as the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society -- although "the connection between use of the initiative's revenues and tobacco use are tenuous," the Times noted (Pyle, 10/1).
USA Today reports that Reiner is getting support from former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and former GOP Senate candidate Michael Huffington. The three men appear in an ad to counter the CAUT's attacks on Prop. 10. In the ad, Koop says, "When the tobacco industry fights something, you almost always know it's good for public health." Huffington says, "There's no big bureaucracy. The tobacco industry is spending millions, so you'll vote 'no.' But California's doctors, nurses, teachers and I are asking you to vote 'yes.'" USA Today notes that a recent Field Poll shows Prop. 10 with 56% support among California voters, down from 69% in February. The anti-Prop. 10 campaign has reserved "close to $10 million in broadcast TV time" to get its message out, according to a CAUT spokesperson. One ad backed by the tobacco industry labels Prop. 10 a "$700 million tax increase" that will create "hundreds of new appointees and bureaucrats" (Lawrence, 10/2). Click here for a Sacramento Bee editorial on Prop. 10.