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The Governor's Budget

The health groups hoped to avoid another battle in the Legislature. They had won two court rulings on the illegality of diverting Proposition 99 Health Education and Research money into medical services. More important, the state's economy had improved, which meant that the excuse for the diversions—fiscal necessity—had evaporated. Indeed, when Governor Wilson released his budget on January 10, 1996, he announced that “solid gains in employment and income will continue for the next two years.”[11]

Rather than proposing expenditures conforming with the two court orders, however, the governor's 1996-1997 budget was identical to AB 816 and SB 493. (Wilson cited SB 493 as his rationale, purposely ignoring SB 493's stipulation that, effective July 1, 1996, the allocations of tobacco tax revenues to the Health Education and Research Accounts would conform to those established in Proposition 99: 20 percent and 5 percent, respectively.) Wilson proposed spending only $53 million (of the available $191 million) on anti-tobacco education and $4 million (of the available $82 million) on research. He proposed diverting $57 million into medical services.[12] Wilson was still trying to starve the anti-tobacco programs to death.

The three voluntary health agencies issued a press release immediately after the governor released the budget, saying they were “outraged” at the budget proposal and that “it reveals his latest attempt to thwart the law and steal monies earmarked for anti-tobacco education and research programs by the voter-approved Proposition 99.”[13] The press release announced that “the health agencies refuse to let that happen and are launching a statewide campaign to invoke public awareness and put pressure on legislators to reject the Governor's tobacco fund raid.”


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