Contra Costa Times Examines Debate on Ballot Measure To Fund Mental Health Services
The Contra Costa Times on Friday examined the debate surrounding Proposition 63, a measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that would raise the state income tax to fund mental health services (Steffens, Contra Costa Times, 9/24). Proposition 63 would increase by 1% the state personal income tax on individuals whose annual incomes exceed $1 million to finance an expansion of mental health services. The measure would generate $275 million in 2004-2005, increasing to $750 million the next year and $800 million in subsequent years, according to an estimate by the Legislative Analyst's Office (California Healthline, 9/20).
Supporters of the measure say it is an opportunity for California to provide community-based services to residents with mental illnesses who were released from state hospitals 35 years ago.
"When anyone looks at the history of how we have treated the mentally ill in California, it is a disgrace," Assembly member Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said.
David Yow, a spokesperson for the "No on 63" campaign, said the measure is "a noble purpose but a flawed method." He added, "Desperation is certainly no substitute for effective public policy. We may want to make things better really, really bad. But that earnestness and passion is not a substitute for economically sound programs that work."
Other critics say that state residents whose annual incomes exceed $1 million have no connection to the issue and that the funding would be based on an unstable source (Contra Costa Times, 9/24).
Summaries of an opinion piece and editorial addressing Proposition 63 appear below.
- Jerry Doyle, San Jose Mercury News: Proposition 63 is "the single most important effort we've had to create a viable and adequate funding stream" for mental health services, Doyle, president and CEO of EMQ Children and Family Services in Campbell and chair of the committee that wrote the children's services section of the proposition, writes in a Mercury News opinion piece. He adds that the measure "represents an investment we need to make now." According to Doyle, voting "yes" on Proposition 63 would "help the most vulnerable in our society" and "reduce the financial drain and societal costs from other systems" (Doyle, San Jose Mercury News, 9/24).
- San Francisco Chronicle: Proposition 63 "is an attempt to address this long-ignored commitment to mental health," a Chronicle editorial states. The editorial recommends that state residents vote "yes" on Proposition 63, adding, "California can no longer afford the cost, in dollars and human anguish, of its broken promise" (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/27).