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In 1998, the voters of California approved Proposition 10 on the ballot, the Children and Families First Initiative. This Proposition imposes a surcharge on the sale of tobacco products, with the funds collected by the State. The State then distributes these funds, with 20% going to the California Children and Families Commission and the remaining 80% going to the 58 counties. These county allocations are designed to support the work of local County Commissions, with the amount of funds based on the number of live births in the county.
All these funds are earmarked for programs and services aimed at improving the lives of children prenatal to five years of age and their families. This Proposition generated approximately $700 million statewide during its first full year of operation. Solano County's allocation during the first full year, was $5,500,000 and the current FY2016-17 allocation is $3,176,200. These revenues decrease steadily over time as people reduce their use of tobacco products or find sources for these products that do not generate California sales tax revenues. Current financial information can be found in the Commission's 2016-2018 Program Investment Plan which begins on July 1, 2016 and ends June 30, 2018.
The First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission was established by an ordinance passed by the Solano County Board of Supervisors on June 8, 1999. The ordinance defined the number of Commissioners as nine, the maximum allowed under Proposition 10, which mandates that local commissions include a member of the Board of Supervisors and two representatives of the County Health and Social Services Departments. First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission has independent authority to allocate its funds in accordance with its Strategic Plan.
The Commission funds many programs within the community and First 5 funds are an integral part of the safety net for children's and family programs in Solano County. The Commission works closely with community partners to continue to find ways to ensure these critical community investments.
Across California counties, as tobacco tax revenues decline, First 5s are serving their communities with diminishing resources, and are using reserves that were accumulated years ago to support community investments. Solano County is no different: Proposition 10 tobacco tax revenue has decreased in Solano by an average of 4% each year, from $3.9 million in 2011 to $3.1 million in 2016. The Commission's 2016 Strategic Plan Update directs investments toward the areas of highest priority need in which First 5 Solano can make a demonstrable impact with its increasingly limited financial resources. The 2016 Strategic Plan also sets the explicit goal of identifying opportunities within the surrounding systems to meet the needs of children and families in more cost-effective, sustainable ways.