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State Senator Proposes Redistributing First Five Money

A Republican California State Senator says he has a way to save some of the state's low income health programs from the budget axe. He says the answer is legislation to get rid of a statewide program promoting early childhood development. From Sacramento, Jenny O'Mara reports.

Senator Dave Cox says money that is raised from a tax on cigarettes for First Five commissions around the state would be better spent elsewhere. 

Cox:  "We're simply saying that's a failed program."

Cox points to recent audits and news articles about poor contracting practices and questionable spending by the commissions 

Cox:  "You wonder how it's possible that an agency that is getting almost $600 million a year could fail to be accountable.”

Cox wants to eliminate both the state and counties' First Five programs. He wants to take the unspent funds, nearly $2.5 billion, and give it to schools, cities and counties. Future revenue would go to the Healthy Families and Medi-Cal programs. A spokesman for Democratic Assembly Speaker Karen Bass says it should be part of upcoming budget negotiations but that the programs seem to be working very well.

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