Prop 1D would use more tobacco tax money

May 12, 2009 7:32:49 PM PDT
The special election is one week from Tuesday; on the ballot, Proposition 1D, a measure that would use tobacco tax money to fund child welfare services.

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In 1998 California voters approved a measure that taxed tobacco and give the money to childhood health and education programs. Now, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says a big chunk of that money is needed to help the state cover its budget shortfall.

The governor says Prop 1D and the other the ballot measures are a necessary to fix the state's budget crisis.

"We have one-third of our revenues are gone, that's why we have this big hole in the budget and now we have to deal with it," Schwarzenegger said.

Prop 1D would redirect $608 million in tobacco tax money this year and $268 million every year for the next four years, for a total of $1.6 billion through 2014.

A spokeswoman for the governor and the proposition campaign says the money will fill an enormous budget deficit.

"The state is facing a massive budget crisis to the tune of $42 billion; that budget crisis has meant cuts to education, teachers are being laid off across the state, it's meant cuts to health and human services, cuts to children's health programs," Julie Soderlund said.

Soderlund said the money will likely be spent on children, but opponents of 1D say the money right now is going to children, to programs run by the First Five commission, which was funded by the original 1998 tobacco tax.

"The voters voted for it and now Proposition 1D is trying to say those voters didn't count and we need to send them a clear message that we count," San Francisco school board member Norman Yee said.

In San Francisco's Chinatown opponents of Prop 1D say it will cut funding in half for a family services center, 13 more like it in San Francisco and hundreds like it across the state.

Mother of two Rixi Clara Liang relies on one of the centers; she says she was unprepared for the cultural shift she experienced when she moved to the U.S. from China.

"And this program has really bridged those differences and has made Chinese culture and also American culture come together," Liang said.

Other parents at the center got emotional in talking about how important the First Five program is to their families.

The governor's spokeswoman says she understands.

"The fact of the matter is that there are really no good solutions when you're looking at that big of a budget deficit and everybody's got to come to the table and give some in order to get us through this crisis that we're facing," Soderlund said.

Political observers and the polls agree, prop one d is in trouble, as are all of the propositions with the exception of 1F, which restricts pay raises for California legislators.

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