History of the Children’s Initiatives Fund
In 1999, states across the nation began to recognize the growing costs they were absorbing as a result of tobacco-related illnesses. In response, they joined together and sued Big Tobacco. This resulted in what is known as the “Master Settlement Agreement”, or the tobacco settlement. Although the amount varies from year to year, Kansas has received an annual payment from Big Tobacco of approximately $60 million for the last 20 years.
A bold Kansas vision
States had no limitations on how to spend their settlement payments, but Kansas did something really special. Recognizing the enormous return on early investment, they established the Children’s Initiatives Fund (CIF) and devoted 100% of Kansas’ tobacco dollars to our state’s youngest and most vulnerable children.
20 years later: the gold standard
Over the years, the CIF became the cornerstone of Kansas’ entire early childhood infrastructure, and with great success. In 2016 an audit of state government elevated the CIF as the gold standard for efficiency and accountability, with some programs generating an $11 return for every $1 invested.
Despite the unrivaled success of the CIF, Governor Sam Brownback shocked lawmakers on both sides of the aisle when he proposed the total dismantling of the CIF. This would enable him to sell the CIF revenue stream — the tobacco settlement dollars — to Wall Street investors for pennies on the dollar. This process, known as “securitization” would generate a temporary influx of cash, but it would require the permanent dismantling — and ultimate defunding — of Kansas’ prized early childhood system.
What can you do?
Thanks to the tremendous outpouring of support from Kansans across the state, the Kansas Legislature unanimously rejected Governor Brownback’s attempts to eliminate the CIF, and lawmakers didn’t support his renewed efforts in 2017. This was good news, and officials have both funded and supported the CIF since then.
But that doesn’t mean the risk has disappeared. Proposals in the Kansas Legislature can emerge unexpectedly and move quickly. Follow KAC on Facebook or Twitter for daily updates, join our e-mail list to receive action alerts as the legislative session progresses, share CIF stories with your own networks, and reach out to your state legislators about why early childhood investment matters to you.