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Republicans Target Tobacco Taxes

Republican lawmakers want to tap into tobacco tax money to help plug California's budget gap. But Democrats say they won't sign off on the idea. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.

Republicans Target Tobacco Taxes

Republican lawmakers want to tap into tobacco tax money to help plug California's budget gap. But Democrats say they won't sign off on the idea. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.

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California's voter-approved tobacco tax generates more than half-a-billion dollars a year. Most of it is distributed by First 5 commissions in each county. It's used primarily to pay for education and health programs for young children.

Republicans say the money is mismanaged. They'd like to shift it over to the state general fund.

Sherry Novick directs the First 5 Association.

Sherry Novick: We have this opportunity to invest in children to help their lifelong academic achievement, earning power. Why would we want to yank those dollars away for short term budget gap filling?

The idea must first be approved by the legislature, and then voters. Democratic lawmakers say that's not going to happen.

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Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.