Public Safety Agencies Push Quarter-Cent Sales Tax Referendum to Fund Bioterrorism Prevention
A coalition of hospital, law enforcement and fire agencies is sponsoring an amendment to the state constitution to increase California's sales tax by a quarter-cent to raise up to $1 billion annually for bioterrorism prevention, Copley News/San Diego Union Tribune reports. Since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, costs for security have "spiraled," leaving local agencies "scrambling" to find adequate funding for bioterrorism prevention plans. Under the amendment, if approved by voters, 20% of the tax would be allocated to emergency rooms and trauma centers, and 6% would go toward public health efforts. The remainder of the tax proceeds would fund law enforcement and fire departments. To place the amendment on next November's ballot, supporters must collect 670,516 signatures from registered voters by June 27. Nick Warner, legislative director for the California State Sheriffs' Association, said, "A quarter-cent is so minimal on the average purchase that people won't feel the pinch, but they'll feel the security it will provide" (Gardner, Copley News/San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/27). Public health officials statewide asked Gov. Gray Davis (D) last month to consider a quarter-cent sales tax, but Davis said he does not plan to increase taxes (California Healthline, 10/25).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.