What it does
The Children’s Amendment was first passed by the voters in 1991, and has generated about $122 million over the past nine years. The Department of Children, Youth and their Families administers the fund of $18 million a year, allocating money to city departments and more than 180 non-profit organizations to provide programs for children and youth. Services funded by the program include child care, job training, academic enrichment, after-school programs, health programs, and mental health programs.
Those who support this measure state:
- The department is generally thought to be well-run. Grant recipients are regularly evaluated and those not achieving their goals are cut. Each year the department creates a Children’s Service Plan to allocate the Children’s Fund which is coordinated so that a balanced group of services is provided. The public money enables the agencies to leverage foundation grants and other funding sources.
- Because this is a percentage of property tax revenue and not a set dollar amount, if the property tax revenue goes down, the fund decreases; if the tax revenue increases, the fund goes up.
Those who oppose this measure state:
- Set-asides of this nature should be avoided because they reduce flexibility in public administration and hamstring the ability of elected officials to establish changing public priorities over time.
- Only 16% of the city’s population is under age 18, which does not justify this set-aside.
This proposal will extend for 15 years the provision that earmarks a fixed percentage of the city’s property tax revenue for children’s services and increases that percentage from 2.5 cents to 3 cents per $100 in property taxes (from $18 million to $22 million a year at today’s assessed value). Prop. D would not increase taxes, but rather set aside a portion of the total city budget for the program.
Although set-asides are not something SPUR wishes to encourage, this is the responsible way to do a set-aside: a percentage of the property tax, rather than a fixed dollar amount. In addition, while SPUR opposed the establishment of this set aside in 1991, the failure to renew it today would be very disruptive to hundreds of well-operated programs. Set asides in the San Francisco municipal budget are not going to go away, and SPUR has supported such flexible set-asides for parks and Muni in the past two elections. We believe the Children’s Fund is used for important public purposes, and support its continuance and modest increase as proposed in Proposition D.
SPUR recommends a "Yes" vote on Proposition D.