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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

County May Sue State To Retain Tobacco-Tax Money

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San Diego County is considering suing the state to prevent a take-away of tobacco-tax money that funds early childhood programs. The county's First 5 Commission stands to lose more than $88 million.

— San Diego County is considering suing the state to prevent a take-away of tobacco tax money that funds early childhood programs. Some of these programs offer hearing and vision screenings for children up to age 5, and dental services to kids and pregnant women.

The county's First 5 Commission stands to lose more than 88-million dollars.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed a law to help plug California's budget gap. It requires all First 5 commissions to send half of their revenues back to the state.

As a result, San Diego's commission says it has to cut spending on health and learning programs that benefit young children.

County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price chairs the local commission. She said all of the money should be spent on what it was intended for.

"This was never intended to provide money for state programs," Slater-Price said. "This was not supposed to come in and back-fill existing programs that the state put in place."

A number of other counties have filed suit to prevent the state from taking the money. Slater-Price said San Diego may take similar action.

Over the last five years, San Diego's First 5 Commission has spent nearly $250 million on efforts to improve the health of young children.

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