WatchSonoma Watch

Sonoma County sues state over budget grab


Sonoma County on Monday became the sixth county government to sue the state of California to block its plan to use voter-approved local early childhood funds for state deficit reduction.

“The state’s actions are illegal and go against the will of voters,” Efren Carrillo, chairman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, said in a prepared statement.

The suit filed in Sonoma County Superior Court challenges Assembly Bill 99, legislation recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that requires local First 5 Commissions across the state to give up half of their fund balances, about $1 billion statewide.

In Sonoma County that amounts to a loss of about $15.5 million earmarked for programs that target early childhood health and education programs. The funding emerged from Prop. 10 in 1998 when voters authorized a 50-cent tax on tobacco products for the purpose.

“If this raid is not stopped, our local First 5 Commission would lose dollars to the state’s general fund black hole,” Carrillo stated.

Marin, Fresno, Madera, Merced and Orange counties have filed similar lawsuits.

23 Responses to “Sonoma County sues state over budget grab”

  1. Common Sense says:

    The key to your point is “if it gets them off the dole”. I must say, having firsthand knowledge of the welfare system, it’s not designed to encourage independence and those that suceed are the not the norm. Cudo’s to Lynn Woolsey for her success (although I’m not a big fan of her politics, I am of her success in this regard), but she’s the exception, not the rule.
    The vast majority will be on and off for years and years, and much of the beneifts paid out will not go to the minor children.
    In my mind the real issue with entitlement programs, is not the goal, it’s always a worthy one, but the reality and difficulty with actually coming up with a effective and efficient entitlement program. I think the only effective and efficient programs are the ones born and operated locally, from local resources. It’s easier for local communities to effectively support and encourage independence then for distance government bodies in Sacramento and D.C. and it’s more efficient.
    And I couldn’t agree more with poster who commented on seeing young mothers at the store. I get very sad and frustrated when I shop anymore, as I always see young mothers with welfare debit cards and most have more then one child.

  2. RAW says:

    With the state spending 50% of the budget on welfare programs already, some of you are suggesting expanding these programs? Because it feels Good? I see the problem for CA. We have the highest welfare payouts in the country and because of that, many career welfare cases move to CA. Why not, we won’t turn them down. Come one, come all, we have lots of services to taxpayers we can cut to provide it.
    If you stop paying it out, they will go. When it became uncomfortable for illegal aliens in AZ, they had a mass exodus for greener pastures. If you end or drastically reduce welfare programs in CA, they will move to another state. They might even decide to go look for a job. There is no shortage in the classifieds. Giving people more free stuff is certainly not the answer.
    I have 4 children. Our household has one income, mine. We structure our lives around that income. It is not a revelation, it is simple. If you can’t afford the luxury, you don’t buy it. The state could learn from that practice. We can’t afford our welfare system, and they hardly want to touch the largest portion of our budget. They may never learn.

  3. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    To Joseph Donegan-That $100,000 spent on an unwed mother OR FATHER, or any family in poverty, is well worth the money if it gets them off the dole for the rest of their lives. Some of you don’t know, but Lynn Woolsey was on welfare when she was first divorced. I say the money was well worth the investment in letting her pull out of poverty. Keeping families in poverty doesn’t do anyone any good and costs the taxpayers a lot more over time. Another positive is that the children get the services they need and become taxpayers too. We are looking at a big long term savings for a short term investment.

    And even for families where the income is higher, $800 to $1000 a month for childcare is a burdon considering the cost of all the other necessities these days.

    I would love it if childcare were free and there were afterschool programs for children so they wouldn’t have to go to homes that are empty til the parents get home. Extend the educational day, provide learning experiences and tutoring, music and other arts, exercise and so on. Afterall, our children are the future of this country and worth the investment.

  4. Reality Check says:

    //I am curious, whatever happened to parents raising their own children?//

    Many things got in the way. Not least of which is a standard of living that doesn’t include giving up much for kids.

    Must have nowadays include houses 50% larger than the previous generation, 2 upscale cars, plus RV, in every garage, big screen TVs and smart phones, not to mention designer and gourmet practically everything. And of course, nothing but organic veggies in the house.

    All of that, and much more, requires 2 incomes, and sometimes even that isn’t enough. Which is why we invented credit cards.

  5. Joesph Donegan says:

    I have to tell you I find it sad to see so many teenage mothers when I shop at Lola’s, many of these girls cannot be more than fourteen, with two and three year olds in tow.
    I live on a thousand a month, so if it costs a thousand a month for day care then I just make sure I do not get anyone pregnant.
    We are having culture clash, and changing values.
    Back in the sixties, if the priest told you to marry the girl, you married the girl. today we do not see so much of that.
    Now we have government entitlements
    to take the place of family and social responcibility.
    We complain about law enforcement officers being paid $100,000.00 a year. Yet,We spend on average $100,000.00 a year for every unwed mother, to keep them in school until they graduate.
    Most of the fathers are men in their thirties, who cannot be found.
    Is this a change we have to accept as a morally decent society?

  6. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Joseph Donagan-it used to be that one paycheck was enough to support a family. Some of us older folks had our mothers home all day and still had a roof over our heads, food and clothing, and even a car and TV. EVERYTHING is so expensive today that it takes 2 and even 3 incomes to support a family. Many families have only 1 parent. I know middleclass people working a full time and a part time job just to make ends meet. THAT’S why government has gotten involved.

    Childcare is so expensive. $800 to $1000 a month for someone under 5 years. For lower income people that’s impossible. That’s why government has gotten involved.

    As for the workers formally on CALWORKS (welfare) that are now working middleclass-they were helped when they needed it and need a little more help with childcare and healthcare to get through their first independent working years and taxpayers. This is a good thing. Otherwise, they’d still be on welfare and we’d be paying until all their children are grown. It’s much less expensive to help them to get to point where they are taxpayers too and supporting the same system that once helped them.

  7. Joseph Donegan says:

    I am curious, whatever happened to parents raising their own children? Seems that if you are going to bring children into this world you should have some hand in raising them.
    Sending them off to all day care does not allow for much bonding time, makes it hard to control them when later they become teenagers.
    I do not know when the government became involved in raising our children, seems to invoke the words, “I am from the government and I am here to help you”
    Maybe book burning will be next and uniforms for all the children.

  8. Ruben says:

    First 5 already gave them $133 million to pay for these or similar services last year, so there is a clear precedent for the move of funds.

    Unlike EVERY OTHER organization in CA, First 5 has a legal exception to the conflict of interest law – that means people sitting on their Commission Boards can and generally DO receive the lion’s share of the funds (Oh yes they DO!!!). That’s why they are suing. It’s not to preserve what they claim the voters intended, it’s to preserve their own personal pet programs.

    “Karen Scott, executive director of First 5 San Bernardino, said her commission has no litigation plans.” Why? one might ask… perhaps this quote from another Executive Director is why: From Contra Costa’s February minutes: ” Sean Casey: We don’t have any real argument against it which is why we’re really stressing the other piece. Sure, take the money…”

    So add to that Rob Reiner, the originator of Prop 10, supports the $1 billion move – if he thought it were illegal, he’d be up in arms (and he is not) so why sue since the law allows the move?

    Well, this way the commissioners get to spend as much OF THE TAXPAYERS’ money as they want to try to save funds for mainly THEIR OWN agencies.

    This IS what happens when you write into a law that the foxes can guard and eat from the hen house – and the Prop 10 law does just that.

    At least the state is not willing to let poor kids DIE.

    The Sonoma County First 5 Commissioners, on the other hand, are fighting to do just that.

  9. Reality Check says:

    Since no one ever defines what’s a fair percentage of taxes the rich should pay, it’s easy to shout wild charges about.

    To bring things back down to earth, the richest 1% to 5% of Americans pay a higher percentage of income taxes than in any European country. This may be because so much of European tax money comes from their 18-25% VAT, a very regressive tax, and the dream of every tax-and-spend liberal in America.

    And, come to think about it, why does the bluest of states, like California, also have the most regressive taxes, i.e., our almost 10% sales tax?

  10. Common Sense says:

    Based upon this article and other in Marin County, I researched First 5 and its programs. While I have a small child I had not previously been familiar with this program. It appears the majority of money is obained via a tax on tobacco and then distributed through grants, that are applied for and designated based on a application process (RFA) with standardized qualifications that are quite frankly minimal. Most recipients appear to be school administrations for alleged school programs. Do we know how this money is actually spent? Based on my research, and anyone who knows more is free to correct me it I’m wrong, there is very little direct reporting of how the money is spent and if it’s effective or not. I also note that one of the major services listed by First 5 is the support of “seasonal migrant workers” for the healthcare and daycare of their children, but it’s very unclear how that money is distributed. I’d really like to know how much money is going where and who is truly benefiting. Because I have serious doubts that the children are the direct beneificaries of the First 5 programs. Instead, I think that program administrators, school districts and other government agencies are the real beneficiaries. How much is going to overheard/indirect program costs vs. the kids. I just don’t see the justification for this program as it’s currently set up.

  11. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Steele-you are under the delusion that the rich pay their fair share for the infrastructure they need and use. They don’t pay anywhere near what they paid in past times. They are in a financial boomtime while the middleclass and poor are in a depression. And yet you can’t see this. The poor DO pay taxes. They pay all the regressive taxes like sales taxes. And many pay income taxes too. Now for corporations, many pay NO TAXES because they have all the breaks.

    So it looks like you want the poor, some who work 2 or 3 jobs just to make enough to SURVIVE on, to pay taxes too. What should they do without in order to pay their fair share of taxes? Rent or food? Starve their children? My how compassionate you are. That’s the trouble with today’s “civilized” world. Just too many selfish, greedy, uncaring people. I guess if you don’t experience it you don’t get it.

  12. Steele says:

    How about a flat tax? A VAT that is on purchases. That way every one pays their fair share.

    Every time I read about “taxing the rich” it makes me sick. This is the USA were everyone DEMANDS to be treated equally, EXCEPT when it comes to tax rates.

    The MAJORITY of Californians do not pay income tax or if they do it is less than 1.3% of their taxable income.

    Let’s count everyone in with a flat tax.

  13. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    As someone who knows what First 5 does for children and families and someone who also got polled about the state taking First 5 funding (I don’t know who did the poll), I understand that the First 5 funding should be used the way that it was intended. Getting children off to a good start in life is VERY important. It can prevent all kinds of problems for the child and the public in the future. It MORE THAN PAYS FOR ITSELF.

    California needs to levy extraction taxes on the oil industry in this state. Other states do this but California doesn’t. We also need to go back to the taxes rates from the 1970s. In other words, the rich need to pay more. As for the yachting industry, the rich need to pay tax when they purchase yachts (the excuse that it will eliminate jobs is just plain dumb-how may jobs could that be?). We pay on our cars, we pay on our smaller boats, we pay on just about everything. Again, the rich get the breaks, and we middleclass pay for it.

  14. Dave Madigan says:

    Just think…if Noreen Evans had her way, this money would be taken from children so that she can keep her car perks!

    That would make a great campaign ad!

  15. Stop Crying says:

    Ha, this will be funny. The BROKE COUNTY can’t even afford payroll and will now waste our tax dollars on this lawsuit. The State will kick their Butts! Good, then we can vote in new Supervisors… Hey Carrillo enjoy your only term in office. I hope the County is hit with a SLAPP suit.

  16. Dave Madigan says:

    So the next time the County…or the City decide to raise costs just to cover the general fund, we can sue them?

    If the County can do it….we can do it too!

  17. Chris says:

    Lets take money from infants and children, not firemen and police making $100k while retired at the age of 52. Good job Sacramento. Common sense award en route…

  18. Progressive Dem says:

    We should applaud our county for supporting this great, successful, evidence based program that actually saves money! – rather than wasting it on the bottomless and soulless “general fund.” (especially with our dysfunctional legislature)!

  19. FUBAR says:

    All of this would be comical if it wasn’t so serious. Vallejo may as well be the model child for what many municipalities in this state may have to do. Any reliance on state funding has bleak implications at this point,… so go ahead and sue – “nothing from nothing is still nothing” the last I checked.

    To Do:
    Cut the fat, go to bare bones mode for a year, release thy boot off the neck of the private sector and reap the benefits of the free market in 2012…or sue your way to osterity.

  20. The Hammer says:

    Amazing! The different governments can even get along. Except for the fact that each wants to solve their financial problems on the backs of the taxpayers.

  21. Dan Delgado says:

    So how much taxpayer money is wasted as we sue ourselves? No money to fix the roads or fund senior centers, but plenty to pay lawyers on both sides of the suit.

  22. OpENG 39 says:

    The counties actions are ILLEGAL (RICO) based, and against the will of GOD!

  23. J.R. Wirth says:

    Having money cut from some “early childhood program” won’t prevent a three or four year old from becoming a loser later in life. That’s determined by parenting and genes, not Sacramento.