Sacramento looks to help kids with marijuana tax

Cities and counties across California would be wise to focus on Sacramento this June – not for the city’s legislative authority as the State Capital, but for the cleverness of its municipal government.
The city of Sacramento is blazing a trail to medical marijuana tax dollars. The city already brings in about $3 million per year from sales tax generated by its dispensaries.
This election season, Sacramento hopes to create another cannabis tax stream.
The proposed tax is called the “Children’s Fund,” an innocent sounding name that several city council members complain isn’t so innocent at all.
“It’s frustrating and it’s disingenuous,” council member Angelique Ashby says.
The “Children’s Fund” is a ballot measure to tax the city’s cannabis cultivators and manufacturers four percent of their gross sales. The money, which city officials predict could amount to $5 million annually, will presumably support youth services and after-school programs.
This is where it gets tricky. The initiative, proposed by council member Jay Schenirer, will turn over 70 percent of its revenue to non-profit agencies that provide services for youngsters, including homeless kids.
The programs will have to be new – existing services aren’t eligible for the money. And traditional services like pools, parks and recreation are frozen out. The other 30 percent will be used for city youth programs, many of which were cut during the Recession.
Ashby, who’s running for mayor of Sacramento against former State Senate president Darrell Steinberg, and two other city council members opposed the initiative’s placement on the June ballot. 
The opponents claim the initiative was rushed and that it funds programs outside the city’s jurisdiction and responsibilities, such as youth programs in Sacramento County.
If nothing else, the “Children’s Fund” is one more example of local government embracing cannabis as way to finance programs overlooked or cut from general funds.
A two-thirds voter approval is required.