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Reaction to the Governor's New Budget

The reaction to the governor's proposal was mixed. AHA and ANRF responded with a new full-page advertisement headlined “The tobacco industry knows that the best way to get kids hooked on cigarettes is to say they're for `Adults Only.' Why is Pete Wilson using tax dollars to help them?” The advertisement took issue with the governor's plan to focus on youth and argued that strategies that focused only on youth played into the tobacco industry's efforts to hook young smokers. The tobacco industry, according to internal memos, tries to attract young smokers by presenting the cigarette as “one of the initiations into the adult world” and as “part of the illicit pleasure category of products and services.”[42] Smoking is linked to the illicit pleasure category through alcohol consumption and sex.

Not surprisingly, the Coalition to Restore Prop 99 took a more measured approach: “We are encouraged the Governor has recognized the importance of funding tobacco education, prevention, and research and believe he has taken a critical first step. However, we have very serious concerns about his proposed programmatic changes which may not be consistent with Proposition 99.”[43] In a separate memo to ALA directors and staff, Caitlin Kirk, director of communications at ALA, and Najera commented that “although the proposal is a positive step, we have serious concerns and many questions about the details. We are quite concerned about the overall effectiveness of a tobacco control program that would require all funds to be spent on youth-focused education and research projects.”[44] Knepprath explained,

Our coalition was very unified against the revise. We put out a “reject the revise” fact sheet to the Legislature and flogged that around. And I think that helped CMA maybe soften its position on that. …I think their posture on it was “Let's be more positive about it and try to work out our differences.” We were saying, “Uh-uh, this is bad on its face. Go back to square one.” We were able to, I think, through our combined efforts to convince [Senator Mike] Thompson and the budget committee that there needed to be a different approach to using the supplemental funds.[2]

While differing in how aggressive they were willing to be, the AHA/ANRF and ACS/ALA camps were converging on their policy goals. The CMA, while a member of the ACS/ALA coalition, was also acting independently and had probably helped negotiate the governor's position in the May budget revision.[9] The CMA was not waiting for the Coalition as a group to act before going to the governor.

The objections of the health groups were getting the media's attention. On June 3 the San Francisco Chronicle carried as its lead editorial “Smelling the Smoke of Governor's Plan,” which criticized the governor's May revised proposal:

Governor Wilson recently proposed a compromise that would shift $147 million of previously diverted Prop. 99 funds to tobacco education programs, but that would still fall short of the 20-percent level approved by voters. The Governor's plan also limits the education spending to programs aimed at teenagers, instead of a broader approach. Also, his proposal is a one-year deal, leaving tobacco education funding vulnerable to vagaries of future budget conditions. …The Katz and Watson bills reassert the state's long-term commitment to fight smoking. California voters delivered the mandate—and the money—eight years ago. This effort must not be undermined by Wilson and other friends of tobacco in Sacramento.[45]

On that same day, TEROC met and DHS director Kim Belshé came to the meeting to defend the governor's proposal. Jennie Cook, chair of TEROC, along with other committee members, echoed the public health groups' concern about focusing so exclusively on youth. The program, according to Cook, worked best when it included youth, communities, and adults all together. According to Belshé, the decision on how to spend the dollars was based on smoking rates. For the previous two years there had been an increase in the rates of smoking for youth. But what also emerged at the meeting was that for the second half of 1995 adult rates were also increasing. For the first six months of 1995, the percentage of adults that smoked was 15.5 percent but in the second six months this figure went up to 17.9 percent. Reporting the overall figure of 16.7 percent for the year disguised the uptick in adult smoking.[46] Several major newspapers reported on the apparent effort to disguise the upturn in the adult smoking rate, creating more bad publicity for the administration.[47][48]

In the Capitol, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee staffer Diane Van Maren was working with Senator Mike Thompson to develop their own budget proposal:

I did multiple renditions of various options with the intent of doing a two-thirds vote because that's what Senator Thompson wanted, maintaining indigent health care as best we could, providing an increase particularly for the media campaign, which Mike thinks is particularly excellent. And there has been very good analysis of that to show that it is excellent. To provide an increase to the competitive grants area locally and then also provide good funding to the schools. From a political context of course the governor did not want to provide much funding to the schools because “Oh, that's Delaine Eastin, and that's a Democrat and that's the Superintendent of Schools,” so he didn't want to do that. …A lot of it came from the concern that came forth regarding the increase in adolescent smoking. We need to know more about what the schools are doing and we provided additional funding, $2 million, to do an evaluation in that area this year, but at the same time we also felt that it was important to provide the schools with more funding for a couple of reasons. One, they have a captive audience obviously. Two, because of the increase in adolescent smoking and chewing tobacco and related tobacco products, that was where we needed to get a firmer message across that smoking isn't cool no matter what the movies show and all the rest of it.

… And then restoring the Research Account. And we also went along with the governor on his $5 million for the rural health grants, and we also went along with the governor on the $2 million for the evaluation of school program, and we also…provided General Fund monies to backfill for indigent health care.[21]

The state constitution requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature to pass a budget bill. By deciding that the Proposition 99 revenues would be appropriated with a “two-thirds bill” rather than one that required a four-fifths vote, Thompson was signaling that there would not be any new diversion of Proposition 99 money.

On June 5 the Budget Conference Committee, comprising members of both houses, began meeting to complete the state budget, including decisions on what would happen with the Proposition 99 funding. The Senate was working with Senator Thompson's proposal, and the Assembly was presenting the governor's revised budget. On June 10 the San Francisco Examiner ran as its lead editorial “A Plan Goes Up in Smoke: The Governor and Legislators Must Restore Mandated Funding to Prop. 99 Anti-Smoking Programs Aimed at Youthful Addiction.” The editorial encouraged the Legislature to give the Health Education and Research Accounts full funding.[49] On June 12 the Budget Conference Committee agreed, on a 6-0 vote, that Proposition 99 reauthorization would be drafted as a two-thirds bill, which meant that the initiative's funding percentages would not be violated for the first time since the voters passed Proposition 99.

The health groups were making progress.

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