Jared D. Childress | OBSERVER Staff Writer

The Sacramento City Council voted 8-1 July 19 to place the Sacramento Children and Youth Health and Safety Act on the Nov. 8 ballot. If passed, the measure would allocate 40% of existing cannabis business taxes to youth-related programming.

The estimated $9 million-$12 million allocation constitutes 1.3% of the city’s total budget, according to District 8 Councilmember Mai Vang, who presented the measure with District 5 Councilmember Jay Schenirer.

The measure also would create an oversight board, the Sacramento Children’s Fund Planning and Oversight Commission. It would work with the Sacramento Youth Commission and the city council on a five-year plan to guide spending decisions. According to the plan, the city council ultimately would determine how funds are allocated annually.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg said at the meeting that during the last recession, the city’s parks budget was cut 40% and youth programming 67%. “That’s not right,” he said. “This measure would give young people … and their needs real power.”

As outlined in a presentation at the council meeting, the measure would address mental health, homelessness, substance abuse, youth violence, and youth development from birth to age 5.

District 3’s Jeff Harris was the only “no” vote, calling the proposed measure a “tax lockbox” that wouldn’t afford the council fiscal flexibility.

“[This measure] will not allow this council to make decisions to spend on climate projects which are youth projects – spending on public safety benefits youth, spending on fire suppression benefits youth,” Harris said. “Fundamentally I feel … it’s just the wrong way to make a decision.”

District 7 Councilmember Rick Jennings said his work with nonprofits informed his decision.

“I’m voting [in favor of] this tonight [because] we never have enough resources to really make the impact that we need,” he said. “And those resources aren’t consistent enough for us to be able to show metrics over a period of time that show results. The time is right … to move this forward and let the people have the opportunity to [vote on] it.”