Santa Cruz voters this week appear to have overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure that will increase the amount of money from a city cannabis tax that goes to a Children’s Fund for childcare and youth programs and makes that fund permanent.
Residents of the city of Santa Cruz had one measure to vote on in Tuesday’s election — Measure A, which proposed to increase from 12.5 percent to 20 percent the allocation of cannabis business tax revenue to the Children’s Fund and make the fund permanent as a charter amendment that could only be overturned by another ballot measure decided by voters.
Unofficial results from Tuesday night show nearly 83 percent of the city’s voters approved the measure, with 8,659 voting yes compared to 1,824 opposing. The measure needs just a simple majority to pass.
The city currently taxes gross receipts for cannabis businesses at 7 percent, and the increased allocation to the Children’s Fund, which helps pay for childcare, after-school programs and scholarships, would give the fund a projected $340,000 in revenue for fiscal year 2022, according to an analysis by the city attorney. The rest of the revenue from the cannabis tax goes to the city’s general fund.
The measure also requires the City Council to establish a community oversight panel to oversee the Children’s Fund expenditures and recommend how to use future revenue.
“This fund will prioritize our most vulnerable children and families, bringing us one step closer to creating a community in which all children are set up for success and families are supported,” proponents of the measure, including county Supervisor Ryan Coonerty and City Councilmember Martine Watkins, wrote in the ballot argument supporting it.
No ballot argument was filed against Measure A.