Contra Costa Times Examines Ballot Measure To Fund Mental Health Services
The Contra Costa Times on Friday examined the ramifications passage of a measure on the Nov.2 statewide ballot to fund mental health services (Wang, Contra Costa Times, 10/15). Proposition 63 would finance an expansion of mental health services through a 1% increase in the state personal income tax for state residents whose annual incomes exceed $1 million. The measure would raise an estimated $275 million in additional revenue in fiscal year 2004-2005, $750 million in FY 2005-2006 and $800 million in subsequent fiscal years (California Healthline, 10/7).
Proposition 63 would provide funds for new mental health programs being evaluated statewide, including a program used in 35 counties that focuses on the "whole social component" rather than treating patients "just medically," the Times reports.
But the measure could be more notable because it "promises a groundbreaking approach to mental health that critics say is untested and fiscally untenable," according to the Times. Critics also oppose a clause that would lock funding levels, which some say could put other programs in jeopardy if the economy declines.
David Yow, spokesperson for No on Proposition 63, said, "There are no clear cut measures for success. There's no way of telling when the program worked," adding, "What if the economy tanks? This really doesn't plan for that."
Carlo Morales, coordinator of a Berkeley mental health program, said that "for opponents of the proposition, it's not just this new approach to mental health that's problematic." He added that opponents of the measure say by relying on taxes on high-income state residents, Proposition 71 "pins mental health funds on a volatile source of revenue" (Contra Costa Times, 10/15).
Proposition 63 would "finally fulfill this state's commitment to provide community-based care" to residents with mental illnesses, a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states, adding that California's "woeful neglect of serious mental illness," combined with reductions in federal housing funds, "resulted in entrenched homelessness." The Chronicle concludes that San Francisco residents can help end "chronic homelessness" by voting "yes" on Proposition 63 and supporting Proposition A -- which addresses homelessness -- on the Nov. 2 San Francisco ballot (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/15).
Additional information on Proposition 63 is available online.