No matter whether you are fighting for more money in your local budget or placing a measure on the ballot, there are basically four steps involved:
- Making the case – This can mean anything from doing a report card on the state of kids, building a consensus around a Bill of Rights for kids, developing a fiscal map of current funding (A Children’s Budget), communicating the cost-benefits of investing in children to policymakers and the public, providing testimony at public hearings.
- Crafting a proposal – Make it very concrete – cost, program, who will be served, potential outcomes (whether budget augmentation or ballot measure)
- Building the base – This can involve outreach to community groups, creating a coalition, using social media, convening conference or public forums, doing mailings and newsletters, and speaking at public events.
- Mounting a campaign – This can involve traditional tactics (such as reports, testimony, media, testimony) and hardball political tactics (such as demonstrations, petitions, public challenges of elected officials, and circumventing the traditional political process.)
Short cheat-sheet – A to Z of running a successful ballot measure campaign for kids
Many people start the journey to get more local money for kids by rallying the community around a Bill of Rights. This builds consensus, helps start the organizing, and raises the visibility of the issue. The Bill of Rights can become an official policy of your city or county – passed by a Board of Supervisors or a City Council.
Here are some examples:
- Napa County Children’s Bill of Rights approved by Board of Supervisors, 2015
- San Joaquin Children and Youth Bill of Rights
- San Mateo County Children’s Bill of Rights
- Santa Clara County Children’s Bill of Rights
- Del Norte County Children’s Bill of Rights
A Children’s Budget can be anything from a document outlining the landscape of children’s expenditures in your city or county to a more comprehensive document which also includes funding priorities and benefits.
Children’s Budgets – power point by Funding the Next Generation introducing the basics
We can help you analyze your budget. Below are some power points on the basics, as well as analyses of a city and a county budget that we have done – to get your understanding started.
- GETTING MORE MONEY FOR KIDS IN YOUR CITY AND COUNTY 2020-21 BUDGET — Dec. 5, 2019 Webinar POWERPOINT FROM THE WEBINAR
- Power point on Understanding Local Budgets in California, by Ed Harrington, former Controller of San Francisco and finance expert
- Understanding California County Budgets, with Chris Hoene, ED California Policy and Budget Center; Ed Harrington, Former Controller of San Francisco, and Margaret Brodkin, Director, Funding the Next Generation, July 2017 – Webinar slides
- Analysis of San Diego budget by Funding the Next Generation
- Pomona budget analysis by Funding the Next Generation
Getting involved in your city and county budget processes can be a very effective way to generate dollars for kids. Children’s advocates need to get better at working local budget processes.
- Budget Advocacy Workshop by Margaret Brodkin, March, 2018
- On Becoming a Budget Champion for Children by Margaret Brodkin
- Communicating Effectively about Public Budgets – power point by Public Works: Building Public Will for the Common Good
Part of the work is demanding transparency in your local budget process. Here is model legislation for a city or county to have a more accountable budget process that truly engages the community.
There are many resources on communication, but some of our favorite in terms of making the case for kids are below. Our two favorite sources – Berkeley Media Studies Group and ASO Communications.
- “Minding Our Words” – summary of research by Anat Shenker-Osorio about communication strategies for early care campaigns– Note from Margaret – “Best piece I’ve seen on how we talk about our issues.”
- Talking about Health, Housing and COVID-19 – by Berkeley Media Studies Group
- Framing 101 – by Berkeley Media Studies Group
- Research to Reality – One-pager by Funding the Next Generation on cost-benefits of investing in children and youth
- Poster for campaign to amend the Pomona city charter
Here is a tool that goes through decision-making for a ballot measure, step-by-step.
Decision matrix for developing a local dedicated funding stream
No need to reinvent the wheel. Below is a matrix for what to include in a measure, and some drafts of measures that go from greatly detailed to just a basic framework, and from taxes to set-asides.
- Drafting a dedicated funding measure –
- Examples of 3 types of measures – differing in revenue strategy, level of detail, and structure for implementation:
- Yolo Preschool Measure final draft, 2020 – sales tax
- Richmond Fund for Kids – June 2018 ballot – general fund set-aside
- Sacramento Children and Youth Fund – marijuana tax on ballot, June, 2016
Every community is different, so pick from the examples below some ideas that reflect the nature of your campaign and the nature of the community. Less is more. And you will need a professional graphic designer experienced in electoral work.
Below is a sampling of fliers and brochures that make the case:
Below are some examples. You will have to work with a professional pollster to discuss what you most need to know and when you need to know it. Do you want to know the public’s priorities, most popular revenue ideas, best arguments for your measure, or who is most or least supportive?
- Solano County Children’s Issues Poll– a good model for a local poll on revenue, priorities and messages
- San Joaquin poll on how to best spend marijuana dollars, 2017 – a great model on an important subject
- Wisconsin poll on early care
10. How many children and youth fund ballot campaigns have happened in California and what were the results?
11. What are our legal options in picking a revenue source for a California children’s funding ballot measure?
California law is complicated when it comes to raising revenue. Ultimately you will need to consult a lawyer, but below are some resources to get you started. Here are the basic revenue sources in California:
- Sales – combined limit 2% add-on to base of 7.5% – done in 1/8 cent increments
- Real estate transfer – can be made progressive by increasing with value of property
- Parcel – can be based on size of parcel, and can have many exceptions – always a special tax
- Business – gross receipts, car rental, parking
- Utility (UUT) – gas, water, sewer, cable, phones
- Hotel – Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) – ranges from 8 – 14%
- Marijuana – Cultivation, Manufacturing, Sales – can be passed by a percentage range
- Admission – Parks, Sporting events, Concerts, etc.
WHAT’S LEGAL? Local Government Funding Options for California’s Children – a memo prepared by OlsonRemcho. This is the best overview of the legal options for creating new revenue streams for children and youth services in California. It was published in November, 2021, and includes all the latest information.
Memo prepared by Sutton Law Firm on budget set-aside ballot measures, analyzing implications of LA County Superior Court opinion negating the legality of LA Measure J, which required a 10% budget set-aside for community investments.
Examples of dedicated revenue streams – one-page chart on revenue options, created by Funding the Next Generation
A National Perspective – Innovative Funding Methods to Expand Programs So Children Can Thrive – power point by Children’s Funding Project
Some key lessons:
- Budgets and elections are unique organizing and communication opportunities to create sustainable funding for services and opportunities for children and youth.
- Non-profits have untapped power to influence public spending, but often are afraid or lack the skills and staff resources to use it.
- It takes a village to influence funding policy. Partnerships and coalitions are essential for collective action.
- The good fight for resources entails the skills of both persuasion and hardball politics.
- Youth and parents have influential voices, often the most influential voices, in the public policy fight for resources.
- Take the initiative to fight for enough money to create equitable resources for all kids – don’t wait for politicians.
- Drama helps make the case for resources. Using the media amplifies it.
- Expect opposition EVERY time you ask for more equitable allocation of resources.
- Wining the resource battle for kids is exhilarating! Every win leads to more success. Power builds power.
- Ballotpedia – The have EVERYTHING about almost every measure that has been on a ballot around the country as well as.
- Children’s Funding Project – They are our partners in this work. Their website describes their model for increasing resources for kids, as well as what is going on around the country on ballot measures for kids.
Here is background info, including a detailed tool on what every community is getting. LINK
VIDEO AND SLIDES FROM APRIL 2021 WEBINAR ON AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN (Wait 20 seconds for video to start and also for slides to download.)
- Xcel chart detailing amounts for each county and city
- How much is each school district in the country receiving?
- National overview of what’s in ARP for kids – Report by Children’s Funding Project
- Advocacy resources from Partnership for Children and Youth on Expanded Learning Opportunities
- Here is an exciting tool created by the Children’s Funding Project that tells you what ARP funds are available in your city, county, and school district – don’t miss it? – Find American Rescue Plan Funding in Your Community
Examples of ARP “asks”
- Example from Sonoma County advocacy coalition of request to Board of Supervisors
- Example from early care advocacy coalition in San Diego of survey results to support request for funds
- Example from ECE coalition in San Diego of Child Care and Working Family Resiliency and Recovery proposal for ARP funds
- Example from Los Angeles youth coalition of request to Board of Supervisors
- Example from Ventura County for services for young children
- Example from Fresno Preconception to Age 5 Network
Here is a powerpoint from our webinar on signature gathering
Here is the webinar on signature gathering
GAME CHANGING NEWS ABOUT VOTER INITIATIVES AND RECENT COURT DECISIONS – After three appellate court decisions upholding the right of citizens to pass local revenue measures by majority vote, no decisions holding otherwise, and an April California Supreme Court refusal to hear an appeal from anti-tax groups, Funding the Next Generation is recommending local groups can move forward with voter-initiated children and youth fund measures. This is a major step for democracy!
- Funding the Next Generation newsletter describing the court decisions
- SF Chronicle article on the decision by California Supreme Court
- Children’s Council of San Francisco article on precedent-setting case
On the other hand, the Los Angeles Superior Court issued a decision (now under appeal) saying the groundbreaking Measure J in Los Angeles was illegal, and interpreting that decision very broadly. Link to opinion.
Given the most recent LA Superior Court decision about set-aside measures, here are some ways to frame a set-aside measure that can avoid the pitfalls made in LA that have caused such controversy. Memo from Sutton Law Firm about the implications of the LA decision and possible ways to mitigate its worst impact.
One of the hardest parts of the journey to get a ballot measure passed is raising money directly for a campaign. Here is a powerpoint of a training on fundraising
We just learned about a new resource for funding campaigns for kids: Voices for Healthy Kids – check them out.