SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new ballot measure could help raise millions of dollars for Sacramento youth, but could it put public safety at risk?
On Tuesday night it was standing room only at city hall as hundreds of kids came out to let city leaders know there is a great and urgent need in the Sacramento region to invest in programs that will help uplift the youth.READ MORE: 'Facing A Ticking Clock': Crews Prep Caldor Fire Burn Scar Ahead Of Anticipated Storms
They’re proposing a ballot measure that some say is a gamechanger, but others say could have serious consequences.
Currently, more than 45% of the city’s $600 million general fund budget goes toward public safety, the single biggest expense. Parks and youth programs only get about 6%. If passed, this new proposal would require another 2.5% of the budget to go toward the youth.
“I struggle to get to school on time, every day I have to walk, and I’m 3-4 miles away from the school,” said Avontae Brown, a junior at Florin High School.
He says afterschool activities and programs are also hard to come by.
“The community isn’t always healthy when it comes to being social,” said Brown.READ MORE: Oakdale Mother Arrested After Young Daughter Got Zip Tie Stuck Around Her Neck
Brown is among the group pushing council to place the Sacramento Children’s Fund on the March 2020 ballot.
“It will not only help myself, and others, but it will help future generations too,” said Sacramento State student Diana Soto.
“We have to look at our youth as our future, and Sacramento, unfortunately, hasn’t been doing as good of a job as it could,” said Erin Stone with PRO Youth and Families. “If we don’t do something right now to make our youth thrive, then we are only gonna increase the problems.”
Sacramento’s police union tells CBS13, it’s a bad idea. They say it would force the city council to spend a fixed percentage of the general fund on youth programs even in tight budget times when cuts must be made, and that could potentially lead to police officer layoffs or fire station brownouts.
Youth advocates argue the investment is worth it.
“I think investing in young people, is a form of public safety, if we invest in young people, they will likely grow up and be better people,” said Leesai Yang with the East Bay Asian Youth Center.MORE NEWS: Sacramento Kings Announce New Luxury High-Rise Just Blocks Away From Golden 1 Center
The Sacramento children’s fund is not a tax. It’s money from the general fund that will be overseen by a 17-member citizens’ planning and commission. They will determine the criteria for which youth groups can apply to get the money, do annual audits and evaluations.