California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Mental Health Advocates Fight To Defeat Reallocation of Funds

Advocacy groups, mental health patients and their families are stepping up efforts to defeat a proposition that would divert $460 million allocated to mental health programs to a federally mandated mental health program for low-income children, the Ventura County Star reports.

Proposition 1E Details

The state is required to contribute nearly $500 million to the federally mandated program. The funds come from the general fund, but Proposition 1E seeks to use Proposition 63 money to temporarily cover about half of the state's contribution.

The measure would authorize the state to shift $226 million in the next fiscal year and $234 million in fiscal year 2010-2011 from mental health programs that Proposition 63 funds (Wilson, Ventura County Star, 3/2).

Californians approved Proposition 63 in 2004 to increase the state income tax on high-income residents to fund mental health services (California Healthline, 2/23).

California residents will vote on the proposition in a May 19 special election (Ventura County Star, 3/2). Rejection of any of the six financial proposals up for vote would force the governor and state lawmakers to restart budget negotiations (Californian Healthline, 2/23).

Mental Health Advocates

Mental health advocates say they fought too hard for the reforms approved in Proposition 63 to allow the redistribution of funding.

Karyn Bates, a mental health client who serves on Ventura County's Mental Health Board, said, "If we start giving away the money, they will never stop taking it away."

One advocacy group is seeking a court order to change the language of the ballot measure.

Under the current wording, it states the movement of funds would help balance the budget and preserve funding for children's mental health services.

Rusty Selix, executive director of the Mental Health Association in California and the author of Proposition 63, said the language is misleading because the program for children must be kept whether voters approve the measure (Ventura County Star, 3/2).

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