Cheers rang in the news at a Measure A watch party after polls closed on election night: Santa Cruz voters overwhelmingly supported more cannabis tax revenues going to children’s programs.
For the Nov. 2 election, voters filled in the bubble for the only item on their ballot: Measure A. The measure would establish a permanent Children’s Fund for the city of Santa Cruz, and increase the percentage of revenues from the city’s cannabis business tax headed to the fund from 12.5% to 20%.
The city projects to bring in an estimated $1.7 million in cannabis revenue for 2022. The measure will increase the amount given to children’s programs from $212,000 to $340,000, the city says. The remainder of the revenue from the tax goes to Santa Cruz city’s general fund, which funds city and public works expenses.
As of Nov. 5, 10,933 votes have been counted: 9,030 votes support approving Measure A, and 1,887 votes oppose its approval. It is unclear when the county’s election department will have the official results.
Bringing this measure to the voters cost the city between $141,804 to $177,255, based on estimates from the County Elections Department. But it wasn’t supposed to be the only item on the ballot. It was initially proposed alongside a half-cent sales tax increase that would have brought in an estimated $6 million each year for the city. That measure was blocked by city council member Sandy Brown at a council meeting earlier this year. Brown cited, among other things, the city’s reluctance to give its underpaid low-level employees needed raises in her decision.
Valerie Corral, a local medicinal marijuana activist who supports the measure, says Measure A is an important step toward providing reparations for underprivileged and minority children whose families might have been criminalized for possession of marijuana.
“We need to effect change, and utilize tax money in the best way possible to provide reparations,” says Corral.
The measure ran officially unopposed, and was supported by all Santa Cruz City Council members. At the watch party at the West End Tap Room attended by supporters and sponsors of the measure, the atmosphere was cautiously optimistic as polls came to a close.
Santa Cruz City Council members Martine Watkins, Renee Golder and Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, along with Mayor Donna Meyers, all attended the watch party. They embraced upon hearing the initial results of the election.
“Investing in our children is what cities should be doing,” Meyers says after hearing the news. “Our youth is what makes our future.”