Editorial, Opinion Piece Address Ballot Measure To Fund Mental Health Services
Two newspapers recently published an opinion piece and an editorial addressing Proposition 63, a measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that 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).
Although Proposition 63's "method of financing is difficult ... to defend," California residents should vote "yes" on the initiative because the current mental health care system is "not only a humanitarian catastrophe but a waste of taxpayer dollars," a Long Beach Press-Telegram editorial states. The "40-year-old state experiment in mental health treatment" has "largely failed" and the state has "failed to make good on its promise to fund the local programs that were to replace large institutions," the editorial continues. Proposition 63 would "penalize a particular group" by taxing "for a benefit or service that is unrelated to the source of taxation," but that fact is "greatly outweighed by the tremendous need for a larger investment in California's mental health services," the editorial states (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 10/11).
California residents should vote "yes" on Proposition 63 because the measure would "return rationality and balance to the mental health care system," Assembly member Darrel Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Sacramento Police Chief Albert Najera and Sacramento County Sheriff Lou Blanas write in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece. Because of the state's unfulfilled "promise" to use the funds saved from closing mental hospitals 36 years ago to "enable people with mental illness to live with dignity in our communities," California county jails and state prisons "have become the country's largest de facto mental institutions," the authors continue. Although "ballot box budgeting should be discouraged," Steinberg, Najera and Blanas write that "mental health is an exception," adding, "To do nothing is to consign thousands of people to despair and hopelessness" (Steinberg et al., Sacramento Bee, 10/13).
Additional information on Proposition 63 is available online.