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Tax Panel Opposes Prop. 28

The initiative would stop the flow of tobacco money mandated by Prop. 10.


The county's Tobacco Tax Commission adopted a resolution Wednesday opposing Proposition 28, a statewide initiative that, if passed, would effectively disband the commission.

Proposition 28, which is on the March 7 ballot, would stop the flow of $680 million statewide in tobacco taxes that were mandated by Proposition 10 and would wipe out a year's effort by commissioners.

Since its formation, the Children and Families Commission, one of 58 county commissions, has held forums and hearings to assess childhood development needs in Orange County, which has received $48 million in tobacco taxes. Proposition 10, which imposes a cigarette tax of 50 cents per pack, calls for spending on childhood development programs from prenatal stages to age 5.

The commission has targeted about $3.7 million for funding child care, health services and hospital support for families. But no checks can be drawn until a strategic plan is adopted, which is expected at the commission's Feb. 16 meeting.

"I think the commissioners are impressed by the ability to fund some early intervention programs, particularly for children and families," said Mike Ruane, the commission's executive director.

The commissioners want to spend $2.2 million on about 15 hospitals responsible for 75% of the county's births. Under the proposed program, health care workers will help identify and track children for future services.

About $950,000 will be used to hire public health nurses and family advocates to be placed at the county's five Family Resource Centers. This will help make more nurses available to low-income communities for home visits, Ruane said.

In addition, $548,000 is earmarked for child care to help 60 families that have been targeted because of child abuse and neglect.

The program will focus on children at immediate risk of removal from their homes and where reunifying a family can be assisted with child care.

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