Among many fiscally controversial measures on the California ballot in November is Proposition 3, the children’s hospital bond act.
The proposition authorizes $980 million in bonds, to be paid from the state’s General Fund, to fund the renovation and expansion of children’s hospitals throughout the state.
The measure specifically identifies the five University of California children’s hospitals as potential recipients of bond money.
This proposition would cost the state a total of about $2 billion over 30 years. This includes the initial amount of $980 million, but also the interest costs of the bonds, which would total about $933 million.
Supporters of the proposition include the University of California Regents and the California League of Women Voters.
“We have strong support that health care should be available to everyone in the United States,” said Trudy Schafer, spokesperson with the California League of Women Voters.
Universal health care should include all children, including underprivileged children, Schafer said.
“The current facilities in California are not sufficient for all children who need health care,” she said.
Whether the money is put toward expansion or further development of facilities, the pediatrics system must be reformed and renovated, Schafer added. Although there is a tight budget in California, the California League of Women Voters believes that this is a good way to spend state funds.
“These hospitals do a real service to the community,” Schafer said.
However, opponents of Prop 3 fear the fiscal impacts of the measure will be a severe detriment to the state of California.
“[The problem with Prop 3] is twofold,” said Jim Uhler, spokesperson for the National Tax Limitation Committee. “Number one, we are running a [state budget] deficit right now at a billion dollars a month. Number two, it’s crass self-interest and utilizing sick children as a prop.“
While most children’s hospitals in the state of California have previously received bond funds, all are earmarked in the proposition to get more money, Uhler said. The California Children’s Hospital Association still has approximately $400 million leftover from Proposition 61, which passed in 2004.
“No one is against sick children, but bond financing is the worst way to go,” Uhler said. “[The state] just can’t afford it.“
Still, advocates for the measure insist it is necessary.
“Children’s hospitals simply cannot handle at present the number of very seriously ill children that come to them,” said Kris Calvin, CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics in California. “We’re most concerned with humanitarianism, helping children and their families, but we also believe that it’s the fiscally responsible thing to do.“
Representatives from the University of California agreed.
“[The University of California] operates five children’s hospitals, and funding is seriously needed in order to sustain the medical services and health care that is done at those hospitals, and Prop 3 is a way to do that,” said Trey Davis, spokesperson for the regents of the University of California.
For further information on Prop 3 visit voterguide.sos.ca.gov.
CAITLIN COBB can be reached at email@example.com.