Alameda County child care measure upheld in court
A sales tax measure that would provide more subsidized child care and preschool for low income children in Alameda County was upheld by the Alameda County Superior Court Thursday.
Measure C was passed by 64% of voters in March 2020, but was contested in court. Plaintiffs argued that California law requires a 66% vote for local governments to raise taxes for a specific purpose, like child care. Local officials have argued that only a simple majority is needed if a tax measure was put on the ballot by voters, and not by the local government.
The measure added a half percent sales tax on local purchases — 50 cents for every $100 — to raise an estimated $30 million a year for pediatric health care and an estimated $120 million a year for improving child care workers’ wages and increasing the number of subsidized child care and preschool slots for low-income children. The tax is being collected but is not being spent, while the case goes through the courts.
Plaintiffs have a 60-day window to appeal the decision.
First 5 Alameda County and the Alameda County Early Care and Education Program estimate that 4,000 to 5,000 more children would be able to enroll in subsidized child care or preschool if the measure passes, and 12,000 children who currently receive preschool subsidies from the state would receive additional money to cover more of their enrollment costs. An estimated 3,300 teachers and assistant teachers would receive classes, coaching and higher compensation.
“As the named administrator of Measure C’s child care funds, First 5 Alameda County stands ready to move the initiative forward,” said Kristin Spanos, Chief Executive Officer of First 5 Alameda County in a statement. “As a society, we have failed to fully fund early care and education (ECE) for decades to the detriment of providers, the workforce, and families. The pandemic has made the challenges even more acute and worsened inequities that have harmed low-income and families of color for too long. These public resources are needed now more than ever to support and strengthen our county’s early childhood system, particularly with an equity lens. First 5 is proud to partner with the early care and education field and community in support of children and families.”