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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Spend More to Stem Youth Violence, Coalition Urges

May 16, 2000

LOS ANGELES — A coalition of youth advocates representing several civic, education, law enforcement and medical organizations called on Gov. Gray Davis on Monday to allocate a portion of the state's swelling budget surplus for the expansion of youth violence prevention programs.

With budget surplus projections surging past $13 billion, the largest in California's history, advocates said the money would be well spent beefing up initiatives that improve academic performance and reduce truancy, risk-taking behavior and substance abuse.

California allocated $200 million last year to violence prevention but advocates said the expenditure could easily be doubled--for a total cost of about 3 cents per every California adult through age 64.

"We're spending zillions locking people up, but it's just pennies for prevention," said Tony Borbon of the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, one of the 11 organizations participating in Monday's news conference.

To drive their point home, 15 youth advocates delivered four piggy banks of pennies to the governor's Los Angeles office. The four piggy banks represented the number of young people killed by gun violence each day in California.

Over the next 60 days, as the Legislature begins budget talks, coalition members say they will set up hundreds of collection sites throughout Los Angeles so that people who support increased state funding for the violence programs can drop off pocket change in a show of support.

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