Three First 5 Commissions To Sue State Over Planned Funding Shift
On Tuesday, three county First 5 commissions plan to file a lawsuit seeking to prevent the state from shifting $1 billion in Proposition 10 funding away from First 5 to help close the state's budget deficit, the Fresno Bee reports.
In 1998, California voters approved Prop. 10, which imposed a tax on cigarettes to raise funds for First 5. State and county-level First 5 commissions use the tax revenue to fund early childhood health and education programs.
However, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) recently signed budget legislation (AB 99) authorizing the state to take about half of each First 5 commission's fund balance as of July 30.
First 5 commissions in Fresno, Madera and Merced counties plan to file a petition asking the Fresno County Superior Court to nullify the bill that authorized the state to divert First 5 revenue.
The commissions said only voters can approve a state takeover of First 5 funds.
State officials say they can shift First 5 funds without putting the issue before voters because the funds will be used to pay for health services for low-income children up to age 5, which they say is consistent with the goals of Prop. 10.
H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for the governor, said the state would tap the First 5 funds only once and would shift the money to Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 4/5).
Other First 5 Programs Consider Next Steps
In related news, the First 5 Sacramento Commission has started the process of cutting $48.5 million from its local early childhood programs in response to the recent budget legislation. The commission is considering cuts to programs that promote breast feeding, school readiness, water fluoridation and other issues (Branan, Sacramento Bee, 4/5).
Meanwhile, First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission is meeting on Tuesday to examine the possible effects of the state's funding shift (Vacaville Reporter, 4/5).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.