Proposal for 'culture coupons' chided

Despite having to close a projected $338 million shortfall by imposing service cuts and layoffs, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget includes a new $375,000 initiative to give $75 vouchers to sixth-graders for cultural learning.

Newsom, however, is having a challenging time convincing members of the Board of Supervisors to approve the program and a $1.4 million so-called Baby Savings Bond program.

Last week, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee unanimously voted to shoot down the funding for the baby funds and has voiced opposition to the voucher program.

The committee is scheduled to make final budget decisions today.

Luis Cancel, director of Cultural Affairs for the Arts Commission, which would oversee the program, said the vouchers would allow sixth-graders to pay for things such as admission fees to museums, artist workshops and dance classes.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, the chair of the budget committee, was critical of the proposal.

“There are much greater needs than culture coupons,” McGoldrick told The Examiner. “Young people who already exist here from babies on up to 18-year-olds are in dire need of help right now.”

The commission estimates 3,353 participants in the upcoming fiscal year with about $251,000 in vouchers. Startup costs, including a Web site and graphic design, and a full-time staff member, bring the program to a total cost of $375,000.

The commission also indicated its interest in expanding the program to seventh-graders in the subsequent year.

Last week, the committee nixed funding for Newsom’s Baby Savings Bond, his proposal to sink hundreds of dollars into a fund for each new baby born in San Francisco. The kids would later be able to redeem the money for college or first-time homeownership.

The Mayor’s Office was still hopeful that the programs would be funded.

“We have until Thursday and we hope that they will come to their senses,” Newsom’s spokesman Nathan Ballard said. “Investing in children’s future is a priority for this mayor.”

McGoldrick, however, had a different view.

“They sound more like public-relations sizzle than actual substance,” he said.

Also in the budget is $250,000 for Newsom’s new S.F. Promise program, which he announced last year, that would provide sixth-graders with academic support.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPolitics

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Temporary high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be added to sections of state Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101 through The City including Park Presidio Boulevard to help keep transit flowing as traffic increases. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes coming to some of The City’s busiest streets

Changes intended to improve transit reliability as traffic increases with reopening

Tents fill up a new safe camping site in a former parking lot at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Proposal for major expansion of safe sleeping sites gets cool reception in committee

Supervisor Mandelman calls for creation of more temporary shelter sites to get homeless off streets

Demonstrators commemorated the life of George Floyd and others killed by police outside S.F. City Hall on June 1, 2020.<ins></ins>
Chauvin verdict: SF reacts after jury finds ex-officer guilty on all charges

San Franciscans were relieved Tuesday after jurors found a former Minneapolis police… Continue reading

San Francisco Unified School District Board member Faauuga Moliga, right, pictured with Superintendent Vincent Matthews on the first day back to classrooms, will be board vice president for the remander of the 2121 term. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Faauuga Moliga named as school board vice president to replace Alison Collins

The San Francisco school board on Tuesday selected board member Fauuga Moliga… Continue reading

Legislation by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman would require The City to add enough new safe camping sites, such as this one at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin, to accomodate everyone living on the street. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City would create sites for hundreds of tents under new homeless shelter proposal

Advocates say funding better spent on permanent housing

Most Read