Gimme five: First 5, or 5am?

The budget deal also has two elements that depend on voter approval: redirecting funds from Prop 10 (tobacco tax for services for children 0-5) and Prop 63 (upper-income tax for mental health services).

Proposition 10, the California Children and Families Act of 1998, is a major funder of children’s programs throughout the state, including county-based “Healthy Kids” programs, which are models of how to get to universal children’s coverage.

The budget transfers Prop. 10 reserve funds of $340 million on a one-time basis in the current year, and then proposes to transfers $268 million annually for five fiscal years to the general fund. It would also place restrictions on what the remaining money can be used for–Senator Ducheny mentioned that the “media account,” for example, would be eliminated.

We’ll see in the coming days what the impact will be on Healthy Kids or other programs.

Senator Dave Cox–who may before the end of the night be the swing vote on the budget–has spent over a year raising questions about Prop 10, and this evening/morning proposed amendments to redirect even more money, and even eliminate all of the 58 county First Five Commissions. Those amendments were tabled, but this is the “compromise” that is going before voters.

Senator Cox makes the point that the First Five money should be prioritized to go to health coverage, such as Healthy Families–obviously a cause close to our heart. However, Senator Cox’s amendment did not include an actual expansion of eligibility for children’s coverage–nor are we convinced that diverting money from preschool and other children’s services makes sense.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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