The Sacramento Children’s Fund (Measure Y) will create a dedicated funding source for children and youth in our city by placing a small tax on the cultivation and manufacturing of marijuana. It will provide desperately needed resources to help our young people succeed in their education, career and life.
The need for additional children’s services is very real in Sacramento, where 29 percent of children live in poverty, 73 percent of Sacramento City Unified students qualify for the free or reduced-price lunches and 64 percent of 3rd graders scored below proficiency for English
We say we are a full-service City, but not for children and young people. Children under eighteen are twenty-five percent of the population. However, in fiscal year 2014/15 the City of Sacramento spent less than 1 percent, $2.6 million, of its General Fund dollars on services for youth. This is why I’m hoping voters will ultimately support the Sacramento Children’s Fund.
The proposed measure will place a 5 percent tax on marijuana cultivation and manufacturing and will generate an estimated $5 million annually. In order to maximize impact and stretch every dollar, most of the funds will be directed to community- based organizations through a competitive proposal process. To ensure quality, each program that is funded would be evaluated, and to ensure transparency, the fund will have an oversight committee.
Public safety is incredibly important. This is why the overwhelming majority of our discretionary General Fund dollars are directed toward our Police and Fire Departments. However, public safety can include more. Programs that keep children engaged in positive learning opportunities also keep these kids out of the back of police cars. We need both a fully-funded Police Department and a robust set of prevention programs.
The measure already has broad support from community-based organizations and not-for-profits that work with children and youth. They see first-hand the challenges our City’s children face every day. The measure is also supported by many of those in the marijuana industry. They embrace regulation and want to contribute to making our City a place where kids thrive.
We all want a full-service, first class city. However, if we are ever going to get there, it will be because of the investments we make in human infrastructure not just the physical infrastructure. Those investments need to start with our City’s youngest and most in need.
In addition to his council duties, Jay works as an independent consultant and policy advisor on education reform and youth policy and strategies.