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Conclusion

As memories of the Proposition 99 election faded, legislators could more readily ignore public opinion and the public will unless the voluntary health agencies and other guardians of Proposition 99 found ways to activate and use public opinion. Instead, the groups attempted to play the insider game and were not successful. For five years tobacco control advocates, using an insider strategy, had tried to protect their programs against the tobacco industry, the CMA, other medical service providers, the Western Center for Law and Poverty, and the governor. This approach of working within the Legislature meant abandoning the health groups' most potent weapon: public opinion. In general, the years of AB 75 and AB 99 were characterized by a series of struggles testing the resolve of the guardian groups and by their general unwillingness to fight back.

During the period 1990-1994 the issue of money for health education and research had increasingly been framed as a budget battle, which was damaging for the voluntary agencies trying to maintain these programs. California's economic recession provided a cover for those who wanted to take the money out of the Health Education Account. When Assembly Member Richard Katz (D-Panorama City), a tobacco control advocate in the Legislature, was asked in 1997 if this had really been a budget fight, he said “not really”:

I think all along they [the administration] wanted to help big tobacco. I think it's obvious from the last couple of years in terms of their desire to muzzle or censor some of the advertising that Health Services had done. I think in their


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desire to screw with the research that the University of California does that they have been fronting for big tobacco. The budget issue made it convenient. In terms of the overall budget, it's not a lot of money. …I don't know who came up with it, it was a very, very clever strategy that helps big tobacco under the guise of providing indigent health care.[88]

In agreeing to the use of Health Education funds for medical services, the voluntary health agencies made this problem worse for themselves. Rather than standing for implementation of Proposition 99 as enacted by the voters, the question became whether the diversions were too large—hardly one that would rally public support.

The one major move outside the Capitol—when ALA filed a lawsuit in 1992 over the media campaign funding—did generate publicity and protection for this program. Significantly, the lawsuit was based on the governor's refusal to implement AB 99 rather than on the broader issue of AB 99's inconsistency with Proposition 99. As parties to the AB 99 compromise, insiders at the ALA were not yet ready to make the more fundamental policy argument: that the governor and the Legislature had violated the voters' mandate and acted illegally in diverting Health Education Account funds into medical services.

The environmental movement, through the Planning and Conservation League and Gerald Meral, had been instrumental in creating Proposition 99. As part of the deal made in 1987 when Proposition 99 was being written, the Public Resources Account was to receive 5 percent of the Proposition 99 revenues for public lands and resources. In 1990 the environmentalists decided to increase their share of revenues by securing part of the Unallocated Account for environmental purposes. They passed Proposition 117, which set up protections for California mountain lions and directed that funding from this program come from the Unallocated Account, so environmental programs began to receive more than 5 percent of tobacco tax revenues. Throughout the fights to save the Health Education and Research programs, neither the Legislature nor the governor touched the Public Resources money—for medical services or anything else. The tobacco industry, after all, had no interest in diverting money from the Public Resources Account. In March 1992 John Miller observed, “[While] health education is more central to the initiative than the 5 percent that went to the environmental stuff,” the Legislature “realized they could kick the hell out of the voluntary health organizations. …they don't have the political clout of the Sierra Club.”[89] Ironically, voluntary health organizations such as AHA, ACS, and ALA


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consistently rank among the most trusted organizations in the public eye and could presumably muster political clout of their own.

The difference between these health organizations and the environmental groups, however, was in their willingness to confront politicians in the public arena; once Proposition 99 passed, the voters—the grassroots—were not involved. Proposition 99 had become a legislative game. As an LLA staff member and then as co-director of ANR, Robin Hobart conceded that, especially from Tony Najera's perspective, “the ends justified the means” in the early phase. She explained,

If you have to give up a little bit to get relatively decent funding, then that was an okay deal to make. I don't know if he [Najera] was wrong about that or not the first year…but there was never really an attempt at any point in time to really seriously mount grassroots support for the reauthorization issue—the authorization issue and then the reauthorization issue. It always really was done inside Sacramento. We'd send out action alerts and the local units of the Lung and Heart and Cancer would send out Action Alerts, but it wasn't really a serious grassroots campaign. That doesn't really equal a serious grassroots effort.[82]

In 1989 the Legislature and the governor did not harm the Health Education and Research programs because the election was still close enough for the will of the voters to be felt. In subsequent years, the election would fade in the legislative and public memory. Without other efforts to bring public attention to the Proposition 99 expenditures, the preferences of the skilled, the experienced, and the powerful in the legislative insider game asserted themselves.

Between passage of Proposition 99 and the end of the 1993-1994 budget period, a total of $190 million that voters had allocated to anti-tobacco education was diverted into medical services. Despite these cuts, the anti-tobacco education program continued to depress tobacco consumption in California. While impressive, this reduction in tobacco consumption would likely have been even greater had there been no program disruptions (such as suspending the media campaign) or funding diversions.


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