San Diego County filed a lawsuit against the state of California seeking to overturn AB 99, a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in March that would take $1 billion from early childhood programs to fill the state’s budget gap, a county commission announced Saturday.
First 5 San Diego handles spending on childhood health programs funded by Proposition 10, which was approved by voters in 1998. Also known as the Children and Families First Act of 1998, it imposed a tax on tobacco products and mandated that the funds be used exclusively to support comprehensive programs for early childhood development, according Barbara Jimenez of First 5 San Diego.
“The intent of Proposition 10, as approved by the voters, is local control of funds to meet local needs for early childhood development,” said Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, chairwoman of the First 5 Commission of San Diego.
“AB 99 will result in a loss of $88.3 million in local funds, these funds are designated for services to children and families in San Diego County,” Slater-Price said.
Eighty percent of the tobacco tax goes to local First 5 commissions for the express purpose of funding local programs and services that support the healthy development of children from the prenatal stage through age 5.
Gov. Brown’s recently revised 2011-2012 budget, released on May 16, does not include the $1 billion the state had planned to take from First 5 commissions through AB 99; however, it does indicate that the state will defend legal challenges against the move, according to First 5 San Diego.
“It is encouraging that Prop 10 revenues are no longer counted on to backfill the state’s budget shortfall for this coming year,” said Slater-Price. “I ask the Governor to rescind the cut outlined in AB 99 so that precious dollars can go to local services for children and families rather than in pursuing litigation.”
City News Service contributed to this report.