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New State Measure Would Take $45 million from Early Childhood Education Funds

A State Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) report says that an initiative, dubbed the California Cancer Research Act, co-sponsored by former State Senator Don Perata will take as much as $45 million away from early childhood education programs.

According to the report, the measure increases the existing excise tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack effective 90 days after its passage. Sixty percent of the funds would be used to provide grants and loans to support research on prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and potential cures for tobacco-related diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Supporters are targeting to get the initiative on the ballot in November 2010.

However, California early childhood development programs – known as “First 5,” for the first five years of life – would lose $45 million, according to the LAO:

We estimate that the initial annual revenue loss to the California Children and Families First Fund (Proposition 10), which is not protected by a backfill provision, would be about $45 million annually.

According to the First 5 website:

In 1998 voters passed Proposition 10, adding a 50-cent tax to each pack of cigarettes sold to create First 5 California, also known as the California Children and Families Commission. First 5 California is dedicated to improving the lives of California’s young children and their families through a comprehensive system of education, health services, childcare, and other crucial programs. Since its creation nearly a decade ago, First 5 California has brought these critical services to millions of parents, caregivers and children ages 0 to 5, and we’re striving to reach thousands more every day.

In addition, Don Perata, a native Alamedan, is running a campaign for Mayor of Oakland in 2010. Last week, as we researched facts about the Measure WW decision by Alameda City Council, we observed that the Alameda Boys and Girls Club listed Don Perata as an advisory board member on their website, along with the caption “**CAMPAIGNING FOR OAKLAND MAYOR 2010**”

Caption for Don Perata That Was On Alameda Boys and Girls Club Website

Caption for Don Perata That Was On Alameda Boys and Girls Club Website

We asked Boys and Girls Club Executive Director George Phillips if that constituted an endorsement of Mr. Perata for Mayor of Oakland, and if so, wouldn’t that violate their non-profit status? He replied:

Thank you for your inquiry and for pointing out the error on our web page posting.

The Alameda Boys & Girls Club does not now or at any time in the past endorse any electoral candidates on any level of government service, including local, state, and national.

The listing for Mr. Perata should have read Former State Senator. The error was a result of a new employee trying to characterize the current status of our Advisory Board members and not understanding the implications. This entry has since been corrected.

While we value the long-time support of Mr. Perata just as we do the other elected officials who lend their name in support of our efforts to help children in our community, and we wish Mr. Perata well in any endeavors he undertakes, we take no position in any candidacy he or any other supporters may put forward.

In answer to your last question, we are a separate 501(c)3 entity.

The website for the Alameda Boys and Girls Club explains that the Club is a “positive place for kids. Our mission is to inspire and enable all youth, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring people.” Since our inquiry with Phillips, the entry for Don Perata on the Boys and Girls Club website has been changed to “Former State Senator”

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