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September 11 fund in CA raided for deficits - AP

May 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Money from a state license plate program designed to help children of California residents who died in the Sept. 11 attacks, has been raided by Gov. Jerry Brown and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to help with the state's ailing budget, says The Associated Press.

After the 2011 attacks, California lawmakers channeled their patriotic fervor and used it to help victims' families and law enforcement by creating specialty memorial license plates with the words, "We Will Never Forget."

But an Associated Press review shows that only a small fraction of the $15 million collected in the "California Memorial Scholarship Program" actually went to scholarships.

While 40 percent has funded anti-terror training programs, $3 million was raided by Brown and Schwarzenegger to plug the state's budget deficit.

The review states that millions more have been spent on budget items with little relation to direct threats of terrorism, including livestock diseases and workplace safety.

Also, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has been advertising the plates as helping the children of Sept. 11, even though the state stopped funding the scholarship program seven years ago. The specialty plate fund continues to take in $1.5 million a year.

The plates, which cost an initial $50 plus a $40 annual renewal fee, feature an American flag partially obscured by clouds and the "never forget" slogan. Residents of California, where all four jetliners were bound when they were hijacked, have bought or renewed the plates more than 200,000 times since 2002.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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