OAKLAND – An Alameda County judge has ruled that 2020 measure C – a half-cent sales tax measure that will provide $ 150 million annually for pediatric health care, early education programs and affordable child care – could take effect after two years of legal debate.
Opponents of the Alameda County measure, however, say they intend to appeal the decision, and an appeal could still prevent the tax money from being spent. The tax has been levied since last July, but the funds are being held on bail pending the outcome of the legal challenge, according to the province’s reports.
First 5 Alameda County, which would administer the tax funds, indicated it was ready to move forward.
“As a society, we have failed for decades to fully fund early care and education, to the detriment of providers, the workforce and families,” Kristin Spanos, CEO of First 5 Alameda County, said Thursday in ‘ a statement said.
“The pandemic has made the challenges even more acute and exacerbated inequalities that have harmed low-income and colored families for too long. “These public resources are now more needed than ever to support and strengthen our country’s early childhood system, especially with an equity lens,” Spanos said.
In a ruling issued Wednesday, Judge Jeffrey Brand in the Alameda County High Court rejected the Alameda County Taxpayers Association’s arguments, which challenged the validity of the measure.
The measure passed in the March 2020 primary election with about 64.35% of the vote, according to the country’s registrar.
Although the measure was led by Dave Brown, the current supervisor of Alameda County – who at the time was the chief of staff for the late supervisor Wilma Chan – it was considered a civic initiative, which was only put on the ballot paper after enough signatures were collected to support It .
Alameda County officials argued that because it was a civic initiative, it only needed a simple majority vote to pass, which far exceeded it.
But the Taxpayers Association, represented by attorney Jason Bezis, sued the district, arguing that the measure should require a two-thirds majority to pass, as it is in fact a ballot paper backed by the district government. State law requires tax measures proposed by governments to reach that threshold.
“The main officer of the campaign was Dave Brown, Wilma Chan’s chief of staff. So is this really a civic initiative or is this a province-orchestrated initiative? ” Bezis said in an interview Thursday.
Bezis said the province tried in 2018 to pass a similar measure for early education and child care, called Measure A, but it failed without two-thirds support.
Bezis claims that in order to pass Measure C, the country “entered into an agreement with Oakland Children’s Hospital” to raise more than $ 1 million to support the signature collection initiative and the ballot measure, with the understanding that the hospital 20% of the proceeds of the measure for pediatric health care when it passed.
“Because the province was so deeply involved in this so-called voter initiative, it must be subject to the two-thirds threshold,” Bezis said.
He said his clients would appeal against the decision.
“This means that as long as this appeal is pending, measures C funds will not be released to the programs,” he said.
Partly because of measure C, Alameda County now has the highest base tax rate of any province in the state, 10.25%, Bezis said. Many cities in the country have even higher rates, up to 10.75%.
“The purpose of this case is to invalidate (the measure) and repay the money collected,” Bezis said.
Supervisor Brown did not respond to a request for comment, nor did attorneys for the country.