Most Important Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

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:

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 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.

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.

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.

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?

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.
  • 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 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!

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.