The Sacramento City Council is considering a youth voting measure. How it differs from previous proposals.
The Sacramento City Council will determine on Tuesday whether voters will weigh in on another youth funding measure in November. Voters rejected similar proposals in 2016 and 2020, but supporters say the need for consistent funding for youth programs has grown over the years.
If voters pass the voted measure, the city would use the “equivalent” of 40% of annual tax revenue from cannabis companies for youth programs. That would amount to about $10 million a year for services like mental health counseling and extracurricular activities, according to a staff report.
Although the funding mechanism differs from previous versions, advocates from the non-profit organization SacKidsFirst say the money would still go to a children’s fund. An oversight committee would provide recommendations on how to spend the fund for youth development and violence prevention programs.
Margarita Rodriguez, who spoke to CapRadio through a Spanish translator with SacKidsFirst, said the measure could help support the emotional and physical well-being of her children through activities such as football, dance and the music.
Rodriguez said her 6-year-old daughter, Sarai, wanted ballet clothes and money for lessons. If the youth measure is approved, Rodriguez said the city could help pay for this and other growth opportunities for children.
“They need programs that can help them build their self-confidence,” said Rodriguez, who lives in a mobile home neighborhood in southern Natomas. “Programs that help them feel safe in the community and help them feel supported.
The city spent about $38 million on youth programs last fiscal year, according to city staff. Funding went to events, community centers and community organizations, but the money came mostly from state and federal grants.
Unreliable or ad hoc grant funding makes it difficult for nonprofits to plan for the long term, said Monica Ruelas Mares of SacKidsFirst. Young people need consistency to build relationships, and one-time funding can lead to staff turnover at nonprofits, she added.
“On the service side, it is really difficult to build strong and consistent relationships with young people when you are told that your program will only last three months a year,” said Ruelas Mares.
The measure would also establish an annual baseline for spending on services for young people under 25. Starting in 2025, the city auditor would check whether the city has reduced youth spending below the baseline and increase plans for the following year if necessary.
How does it differ from past measurements?
Advocates of Measure Y in 2016 and Measure G in 2020 proposed different funding sources for a children’s fund. Measure Y would have provided a 5% tax on marijuana growers, while Measure G would have designated 2.5% to the general youth services fund.
Council Member Jay Schenirer authored Measure Y and also lobbied for Measure G. After voters shot down Measure G in March 2020, Schenirer said he started planning the latest version with SacKidsFirst. Unlike two years ago, Mayor Darrell Steinberg supports the new proposal.
Schenirer added that the city has also added youth support policies and programs over the past six years. He pointed the Youth Development Plan the board approved in 2017, which sets goals, including prioritizing resources for youth with the greatest needs.
If passed, the 2022 measure would require the city to focus funding on youth most impacted by poverty, trauma and violence. With the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating inequalities, Schenirer added that this was the city’s chance to ensure success for young people.
“We need to generate a new generation of leaders, and that’s how we do it,” Schenirer said.
But Schenirer said the measure would not be a silver bullet. The possible $10 million per year for youth services would represent a small percentage of the city’s budget, which is $1.4 billion for the current fiscal year.
If approved by city council, the measure would be on ballots in November.
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