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Last-Minute Efforts to Stop AB 816

There were some last-minute efforts to attract publicity to the Proposition 99 reauthorization fight. On June 2 the Coalition had a press conference


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featuring Senators Art Torres (D-Los Angeles) and Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) and Assembly Member Delaine Eastin (D-Fremont) to “expose the budget `smokescreen' being used by opponents of the successful community-based anti-tobacco education.”[49] It attracted little coverage. A June 6 Action Alert, issued in both English and Spanish by the Coalition to Save Proposition 99, tried to generate pressure on the Legislature.[50] On July 6 Joe Holsinger, a deputy superintendent at CDE, wrote a letter cosigned by representatives of a variety of education organizations and school districts to Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and Senate President pro tem Bill Lockyer, asking for their help in stopping the diversion of funds.[51][52] ALA issued a press release containing a statement from Spencer Koerner, the chairman of the board of ALA, that explicitly confronted the medical lobby:

Today marks the beginning of the end of the world's most successful tobacco use prevention and education campaigns. …AB 816 destroys that program by diverting money earmarked by the voters for education (20% of the revenues of the tobacco tax) into medical care programs. This in spite of the fact that over 70% of the Proposition 99 revenue is already being spent on medical care. Organized medicine represented by the California Medical Association and California Association of Hospitals & Health Systems, and community clinic providers led by the Western Center on Law & Poverty has successfully hijacked California's tobacco education funds as well as the five percent designated for research.[53] [emphasis added]

ALA wrote members of the Legislature urging them to vote against AB 816, warning that “with the passage of AB 816, California's popular anti-tobacco research and education program will die a slow, painful death.”[54]

The governor personally intervened to kill the tobacco research program. According to Castoreno, she was abruptly ordered to halt the lobbying efforts: “I was busily conveying the university's opposition to the measure along with the voluntaries. The director [of the university's Sacramento lobbying office], Steve Arditti, came running into the hallways with a look on his face like somebody vital had died. And it shot a pain through my heart and he conveyed that the governor had just called the [UC] president—Peltason, at the time—to say that AB 816 was part of the budget package. It's absolutely important to him, he wanted it and we needed to stop opposing it.”[18] The CMA wrote legislators supporting the bill and presenting its passage as a routine extension of the status quo: “Except for the cuts to the research account, which were part of the


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overall state budget agreement, the bill distributes Prop 99 funds much the way they have been apportioned since the inception of Prop 99.”[55]


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