Yes on Measure G

Vote would lock in money for youth programs

By Jay Schenirer, Sophie Vang and Isra Uz-Zaman
February 2020

On March 3, Sacramento voters will have the opportunity to make a long-term difference in the lives of thousands of children by voting yes on Measure G. Measure G will help children improve in school, graduate, go to college and gain interpersonal skills. The measure will help reduce neighborhood crime, prevent youth homelessness and decrease dropout rates by funding summer and afterschool programs, tutoring, mental health services, job training and school readiness programs. Through Measure G, we will keep thousands of our most vulnerable children and youth from falling through the cracks.

Measure G does not raise taxes. It simply requires the city to set aside a modest amount of existing funding each year, 2.5 percent of its general budget, to support Sacramento youth. The city’s general fund has grown by 44 percent, or $189 million, since 2014. Just as we have found money for a basketball arena and soccer stadium, the city can set aside a modest 2.5 percent of its general fund for our kids.

Unfortunately, the city currently does not have a stable funding source for children and youth services. Funding fluctuates based on the politics of the moment and is often cut in response to an economic downturn. For the first time, Measure G will consistently fund children’s services to prevent kids from getting off track, which will save millions down the road.

Measure G increases accountability and transparency. The measure will require the mayor and City Council to appoint a volunteer Planning and Oversight Commission—with public health experts, educators, parents and youth—responsible for developing a three-year strategic plan. While the commission is responsible for drafting the plan, the mayor and council have ultimate approval. In addition, the measure will require the city to annually evaluate programs for impact and effectiveness.

Both public agencies and nonprofits may apply for funding based on the strategic plan. The city may choose to expand existing city programs that are showing results, as well as to fund some of our local, outstanding nonprofits. Measure G will enable organizations that put young people in the front and center of their operations to grow and serve more youth. As we support our young people today, we prepare them to lead tomorrow.

The funding the city currently spends on children is insufficient. Children and youth often struggle just to get through the day. Forty-four percent of youth report frequent feelings of chronic sadness and hopelessness, while 24 percent report seriously considering suicide in the past year. Twenty-three percent of children live in poverty. Young people currently make up 20 percent of the homeless population. Funding for California schools ranks No. 41 in the nation, limiting funds for arts, career exploration and after-school and summer programming. By reaching these vulnerable youth, we will improve public safety, academic outcomes and the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

When economic downturns occur, youth services are generally the first cut. If Measure G passes and a downturn occurs, funding for children and youth will shrink like any other part of the budget, but will not be entirely eliminated. By setting aside funding for children services in the budget, we are saying that our kids matter; our kids matter as much as sports arenas and other city services.

Measure G was developed by Sac Kids First, the city’s largest grassroots coalition made up of educators, youth leaders, pediatricians and law enforcement. Elected officials who support Measure G include Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, Vice Mayor Eric Guerra and Councilmember Allen Warren.

Without raising taxes, it’s time to invest in our future by supporting young people through prevention programs that will prevent crime and save us money in the long run. Join us in voting yes on Measure G.

Jay Schenirer is a member of the Sacramento City Council. Sophie Vang is assistant program coordinator for the Alliance for Education Solutions/Sacramento Youth Alliance. Isra Uz-Zaman is executive director of the American Academy of Pediatrics, California Chapter 1. For information on supporting Measure G, email info@sackidsfirst.org.

 

 

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