Voters Decide How To Spend Tobacco Money
With millions of dollars from the 1998 national tobacco lawsuit settlement coming to states over the next 25 years, voters in several states determined yesterday how the money should be spent by casting their ballots. In , Proposition 204 edged out Proposition 200 as 63% of voters voted in favor of Healthy 2, the proposal that would bring 130,000 adults into the state health care system by raising the eligible income level from 34% to 100% of the federal poverty line. Fifty-eight percent of voters supported Healthy Children Healthy Families, a more costly program that would insure 40,000 parents of children currently enrolled in the state CHIP program. Voters were able to support both measures, but the one receiving the most votes won the funding. Forty-two percent of voters rejected Prop. 200, while 36% of voters opposed Prop. 204, according to unofficial polls last night ( Election Information, 11/7). Prop. 200 "apparently was perceived as more rigid, since it would have dedicated all the money to health programs, including insurance for seniors and the working poor, preventive medicine, a new mental hospital and other facilities," the Associated Press reports (Reisner, Associated Press, 11/8). Arkansas In Arkansas, Initiated Act 1, the tobacco settlement spending plan that would put $100 million in savings for health care programs and divide much of the remaining money among various health care initiatives, passed with 64% of the vote, according to unofficial returns from 95% of precincts. Health care initiatives include anti-smoking programs, Medicaid expansion, research and a new school of public health (Lieb, Associated Press, 11/8). Montana Seventy-three percent of Montana voters approved Constitutional Amendment 35, a plan to dedicate up to 40% of the state's tobacco settlement to a trust fund for health programs, with 95% of precincts reporting. Only 27% of voters opposed the measure, placing the initiative in a nearly 3-1 margin (Pininny, Associated Press, 11/8). Oklahoma In Oklahoma, 69% of voters cast their ballots in favor of Question 692, which will create a Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund through which earnings are earmarked for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, health care, education, other children's services and programs for senior adults. Thirty-one percent of voters rejected the measure, according to unofficial polls tallied last night (Oklahoma Election Information, 11/8). Gov. Frank Keating (R) welcomed the results, saying, "I think the public is anxious that the money be segregated and applied to specific purposes. I think that is healthy" (Boyd, Associated Press, 11/8). Oregon Both Measures 4 and 89 were rejected by Oregon voters yesterday, leaving open the decision of what to do with the settlement money (Flaccus Associated Press, 11/8). Utah Utah voters passed Proposition 2, an initiative to allocate 50% of the state's share of settlement money in a trust for the next three years, then 60% of payments beginning July 2003 (Associated Press, 11/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.