Call it a preemptive strike but Ken Yeager deserves a little credit for trying to get something while knowing he’d probably get nothing. Last week, the president of the county Board of Supervisors sent a letter to San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen and the City Council proposing a deal on how to continue funding the Santa Clara Healthy Kids Program.
San Jose currently shells out $2 million a year to provide health and dental care for 2,000 kids in the area, while the county spends $3 million a year to cover 3,000 kids.
In his letter, Yeager suggested the city gradually draw down its Healthy Kids funding over the next three years: $2 million this coming fiscal year, $1.5 million for 2014-15, and $500,000 for 2015-16. From there, the county would take over the whole program while trying to expand its reach.
“Should the city agree to such a proposal, I will request that the Board of Supervisors fund the balance of the cost of insurance premiums for San Jose children in each of the next three fiscal years, as well as the full cost of insurance premiums for the following seven years that Measure A sales tax revenues are available,” Yeager wrote.
There’s just one problem. The city of San Jose has no obligation to continue making payments when it’s broke and the county just got a sales tax increase passed through Measure A.
“I don’t think we should keep funding it, because the county has gotten a lot more money out of the taxpayers,” Reed said in a phone interview Friday. “And we need to the money to do things, like (pay for) our police officers.
“The Children’s Health Initiative has always been important to me. I think it’s been money well spent by the city of San Jose. But the county has more money now.
Reed said he found the letter to be a little “unusual.” He added: “They figured out that we need to phase this out. The timing of that, there’s a difference of opinion.”
The phase-out will likely begin in earnest in two weeks. The five-year forecast from City Manager Debra Figone’s office comes out no later than March 1, and the mayor’s budget message is due on March 8.
Yeager is in Sacramento on county business, according to his staff, and was unavailable for comment.