SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The County of San Diego sued the state of California to prevent a $1 billion raid on voter-approved early childhood programs to fill California's budget gap, First 5 San Diego announced Saturday.
The lawsuit seeks to overturn AB 99, a bill signed by the governor in March that would divert tobacco tax revenues to fund child health programs, a mandate approved by the state's voters.
First 5 San Diego is a commission run by the county government to handle spending on childhood health programs funded by Proposition 10, approved by voters in 1998. Proposition 10 was championed by Arnold Schwarzenegger before he decided to run for governor.
"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, Chair 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."
Proposition 10, also known as the Children and Families First Act of 1998, 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
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.
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