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The Sacramento Bee featured Sue Sparks, President of the Sacramento Family Child Care Association and Child Care Providers United (CCPU) member, in Saturday, May 9, article on the 1D Ballot measure. Reporters  were covering the CCPU May 4th Lobby Day event at the Capitol. The Sacramento Bee wanted to know how Sacramento family child care and the families they serve would be impacted by the measure.  

 

Sue spoke on the phone with the reporter and she and Mike allowed a photographer in their home to photograph their child care home. Sue and Mike were particularly busy that day preparing for the Association's Annual Buffet dinner that night. But they did it to give family child care some long overdue visibility and a public voice.

 

Gerika Parcon and Marilyn Gibson, Sacramento providers and CCPU members, who were at the Capitol lobbying to protect child care for working families and to improve the child care system also spoke to reporters. Although they weren’t directly quoted, they gave the reporter valuable facts for the article.

 

Jeanlina Austin, another provider from Sacramento, was inside the Capitol talking to legislators’ aides.  Although it was a financial sacrifice for Jeanlina and the other providers to go to the Capitol, (Jeanlina lost a client that day) she said she’s going to do it again.  “I have to speak with decision makers, face to face, or I can’t complain when things aren’t right”.

 

Prior to the CCPU Lobby Day, Janne Day from North Highlands, testified at the Assemly Education committee in support of AB 315, a CCPU sponsored bill, that would fix existing problems with the child care subsidy payment system.

 

Hats off to Sue, Gerika, Marilyn, Jeanlina and Janne for their courage and determination to speak out on behalf of family child care providers, children, and working families.

California Props. 1D, 1E would

divert child, health funds

sferriss@sacbee.com

Published Saturday, May. 09, 2009

One in a series of stories explaining the measures on the May 19 special election ballot

Child care worker Sue Sparks was too busy minding a tiny charge at her home in

Sacramento to join a recent protest against potential cuts to her profession.

"I need you to sit down, and if you don't like your carrots, just leave them," she said.

But Sparks made it clear she was just as upset as those publicly objecting to Proposition 1D

and other May 19 special ballot measures.

Proposition 1D and a set of five other measures were hatched in February when the pressure

of an unprecedented state budget deficit led California's top legislators and the governor to

strike a deal.

Part of that deal, along with cuts and new taxes, involves turning again to California's ballot

measure system to solve the mess – and in the process undoing measures of the past.

This time, voters must decide whether to divert money from locally controlled social

programs that they created to state services for children.

If they agree, Proposition 1D would take money from local preschool funds, which in

Sacramento provide small subsidies for Sparks' child care center. Proposition 1E would tap

into dollars for communities' mental health services.

A previous measure, Proposition 10 of 1998, imposed a 50-cent tax on cigarettes to finance

early childhood development, 80 percent of it at the discretion of 58 county "First Five"

commissions. The state will collect an estimated $500 million next fiscal year.

Proposition 1D is targeting about $2.5 billion in unspent revenue sitting in the coffers of First

Five commissions, who argue that the money is earmarked for long-range plans.

Proposition 1E is targeting money collected under another voter-approved measure,

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Proposition 63 of 2004, which imposed a 1 percent tax on Californians earning more than $1

million to help pay for local mental health services. Annual revenue has ranged from $900

million to $1.5 billion.

Supporters say the need for local services dates back 40 years, when state mental hospitals

were closed during Ronald Reagan's governorship.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, was a proud author of

Proposition 63, and says he remains committed to improving mental health services. Yet

Steinberg finds himself up against a wall of opposition from people he usually counts as

allies: social workers and mental health activists.

"I hate this choice. I didn't make this choice with any happiness," Steinberg said of his

decision to back Propositions 1D and 1E.

But if voters decline to divert the childhood development money, he said, it could mean

dropping state cash aid for 98,000 poor children.

The propositions were the brainchild of legislative Republicans, who argued that tapping the

local money made more sense than raising taxes.

As a leader, Steinberg said he felt compelled to place programs he supports on the table

during negotiations, which also resulted in tax increases.

"Given his commitment to mental health, it must have been incredibly painful for Steinberg

to do that," said Tim Hodson, executive director of the Center for California Studies at

California State University, Sacramento.

Voters also must reflect on their tendency to vote, by ballot initiative, for programs that lock

in funding, Hodson said.

The ballot battle has given Republicans long skeptical of First Five spending a chance to push

for voters to let legislators seize money they think is wasted. Supporters of First Five counter

that critics never supported the tax, and now want to grab the money from local

communities.

The First Five commissions are charged with financing early educational activities, with an

emphasis on low-income children, who often start kindergarten with fewer skills.

"The Proposition 1D funds are some of the most cost-effective spending there is," said Moira

Kenney, statewide programs director of the First Five Association.

Testing already shows that third-grade reading scores of kids who benefited from First Fivefunded

programs are higher than others, she said.

Proposition 1D would tap into First Five's $2.5 billion reserve, moving up to $608 million to

the state this fiscal year, and $268 million annually for the next four years. The transfer

would help pay for state health and human services programs for children ages 5 and under.

Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, a Proposition 1D supporter, is one of the First Five commissions'

ardent critics. Too often, he says, commissions spend the money unwisely.

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Low-income kids could benefit more, he said, if the state used the money to pay for their

health care rather than for what he characterized as "yoga in Mendocino," book clubs,

singing circles and Italian classes.

Kenney acknowledged that some commissions have come under fire for frivolous spending

on staff, and for financing affluent parents' camping trips or parties.

Official audits and grand jury reports have detailed questionable spending, and point out that

First Five isn't subject to the same oversight as state spending.

The commissions approved turning over up to $16.75 million last year to help pay premiums

for California's Healthy Families health insurance program for children, Kenney said, adding

reforms in some counties have stopped spending that didn't match the spirit of the 1998

proposition.

Sparks doesn't consider what First Five has given her frivolous. She has received stipends for

play equipment and arts and crafts supplies.

First Five offers stipends to providers who upgrade their skills with college courses and

incorporate educational activities into child care.

Proposition 1E, the mental health initiative, also would temporarily shift to the state what is

collected under the tax on millionaires. The measure would transfer $226.7 million next fiscal

year and up to $234 million in 2010-11 to pay for federally mandated state mental health

services for children 18 and younger.

Counties are the main providers of mental health services for California's uninsured.

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, state and local costs for homeless

shelters, social programs, medical care, law enforcement and incarceration could increase if

Proposition 1E passes.

The No on Prop. 1D and 1E campaign has raised more than $676,000, including a $150,000

loan from director Rob Reiner, who spearheaded Proposition 10.

Dave Fratello, campaign manager of No on Prop. 1D and 1E, thinks Steinberg agreed to

putting 1E on the ballot because it was "politically necessary" to get Republican votes for tax

hikes. But Fratello doesn't buy that legislators are out of options. He cited the possibility of

raising taxes on oil companies and alcohol sales.

Julie Soderlund, spokeswoman for the pro-ballot measure group Budget Reform Now,

suggested activists seriously consider Steinberg's reasons for backing propositions.

"A child without proper medical care," she said, "won't be able to make the best use of

preschool."

ShareThis

Call Susan Ferriss, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1267.

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