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Tax increase for child care validated

Herald Post
Flickr / Creative Commons

Measure C passed with 64 percent of the vote in 2020 but was challenged by the Alameda County Taxpayers Association and others who said it needed two-thirds approval because it was a new tax.

In a ruling Wednesday, the court said the measure was a citizen-led initiative, not a lawmaker-sponsored ballot measure, and therefore needed only a simple majority to pass.

The 20-year half-cent sales tax increase is expected to generate about $150 million-a-year, proponents said in a press conference Friday.

Supporters of the measure included First 5 Alameda County, Parent Voices Oakland, National Union of Healthcare Workers, Service Employees International Union, and other child care advocates.

Clarissa Doutherd, executive director of Parent Voices Oakland, said the organization was disappointed that the measure faced a legal challenge right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Hundreds of millions of dollars can now be accessed that have been frozen in escrow as the legal challenge unfolded, Doutherd added.

The money will be divided into two accounts, with 20 percent devoted to pediatric health care in an account overseen by a citizen oversight committee. The other 80 percent will be dedicated to child care, preschool and early education, to be administered by First 5 Alameda County. The organization must still choose an oversight board that will establish a spending plan.

The 2020 measure was the second attempt to pass dedicated funding for child care. In 2018, Measure A narrowly failed after receiving more than 62 percent of the vote, just shy of the nearly 67 percent majority needed because it was placed on the ballot by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Sunni M. Khalid is a veteran of more than 40 years in journalism, having worked in print, radio, television, and web journalism.