San Diego will keep $88.4 Million, Appeal Period Ends for County’s First 5 Lawsuit

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — (March 20, 2012) –San Diego gets to keep $88.4 million the State would have otherwise swept. A 60-day appeal period for the County’s First 5 Lawsuit against the State ended yesterday.

“We are pleased to see these funds stay in San Diego County,” said Supervisor Bill Horn, Chair of the First 5 Commission of San Diego. “Now we can get back to funding local programs and services that meet the local needs of our County’s youngest children.”

The County of San Diego was one of 12 counties, led by First 5 Fresno, to file suit against the State in response to the passage of AB 99 in April 2011. The case was heard in Fresno County. AB 99 authorized the raiding of $1 billion from the California Children’s Trust Fund, which comes from the Prop 10 tobacco tax and administered by First 5 County Commissions.

On November 21, 2011, Fresno Superior Court Judge Debra Kazanjian ruled the entire bill invalid saying State leaders acted illegally. A 60-day period was entered on January 20, 2012 for State representatives to appeal the decision.

“This is a huge win for our children,” said Nick Macchione, Director of the County Health and Human Services Agency and First 5 Commissioner. “First 5 addresses critical health and education needs that help prepare children for an improved quality of life, a goal of the County’s Live Well, San Diego! 10-year plan to achieve healthy, safe, and thriving communities.”

Since the passage of AB 99, the First 5 Commission of San Diego reduced or suspended several core initiatives in order to mitigate the loss of funds. The Commission will need to revisit budget decisions made based upon the proposed funding cuts.

“We are excited to move forward,” said Kimberly Medeiros, Executive Director of First 5 San Diego. “These voter-approved resources are necessary to ensure our investments on early childhood continue to make a lasting impact on the communities we serve.”