SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — A Bay Area assemblywoman is proposing a cocktail tax at California restaurants and bars to give developmental disability programs an annual $200 million boost.

Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord) introduced Assembly Bill 18 Monday which would add a five cent charge per cocktail. The revenue would go toward providing people with developmental disabilities and their families necessary services in their community, as mandated by the 1969 Lanterman Act.

There are about 280,000 Californians  currently diagnosed with developmental disabilities ranging from intellectual disability to autism. California provides services to these individuals through developmental centers around the state which provide transportation, day treatment, and independent and supported living programs.

During the recession, many of these programs were hit hard by the $1 billion in state budget cuts. And it doesn’t look like its getting better any time soon as 24,000 children are expected to leave public school and need services over the next three years.

“The problem is,” Bonilla said in a press release Tuesday, “regional center workers are already extremely overburdened with caseload ratios of one worker to every seventy-five individuals seeking services.”

Bonilla said the proposed bill, dubbed the Cocktails for Healthy Outcomes Act, would generate over $200 million annually to replenish these services.

“This very small charge – a nickel – will have a significant impact, easing hardships facing our developmentally disabled loved ones across California,” Bonilla said.

 

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