Legislators Aim To Avoid Ballot in Shifting First 5 Funding to Medi-Cal

Although Gov. Jerry Brown (D) previously proposed shifting funds from California's First 5 program to Medi-Cal children's services through a ballot measure, lawmakers now are revising the plan to divert the funds through a legislative vote, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.

Background

In 1998, voters approved Proposition 10, which imposed a 50 cent tax on cigarette packs to raise funds for First 5. About 80% of the tobacco tax revenue goes to county-level First 5 commissions and 20% goes to the state commission.

The commissions use the tax revenue to fund early childhood health and education programs, with any unused funds rolling over to the next year (California Healthline, 1/13).

Brown's Proposal

As part of his budget plan, Brown called for a ballot measure that would ask voters to amend Proposition 10.  

The change would allow the state to take $1 billion from state and local First 5 commissions during the next fiscal year. It also would redirect 50% of all future tobacco tax dollars to other state services.

New Plan

Under the revised proposal, the state would shift $1 billion in First 5 funding to Medi-Cal on a one-time basis. First 5's 58 county commissions would provide $950 million from their reserves and an additional $50 million would come from the state commission.

Lawmakers said they believe the plan could be advanced with a two-thirds vote of the Legislature since it would not divert future tax revenue (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 3/3).


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