Editorials Recommend ‘No’ Vote on Ballot Measure To Fund Expansion of Mental Health Services
Two newspapers recently published editorials addressing Proposition 63, a measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot to finance an expansion of mental health services by a 1% increase in the state personal income tax for individuals whose annual incomes exceed $1 million. The increase would generate an estimated $275 million in additional revenue in fiscal year 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). Summaries of the editorials appear below.
Sacramento Bee: The need for more state funding for mental health programs is "unquestioned," but Proposition 63 is "bad budgeting and a bad precedent" and "the wrong way to meet that need," a Bee editorial states. Proposition 63 commits funding to a single purpose indefinitely, regardless of whether "circumstances change, calamity strikes and other, more critical needs surface," the editorial continues. The editorial states that "voters use the ballot to circumvent their representatives," adding that "as more and more funds are earmarked for schools or transportation or after-school programs or other commendable uses, the governor and legislators are rendered powerless to make the rational budget choices they were elected to make," which will ultimately render the state "ungovernable." The editorial urges people to vote "no" on Proposition 63 (Sacramento Bee, 9/22).
San Jose Mercury News: Although the proposition "seems like a relatively painless solution" to address the "abysmal" conditions of the state's mental health care system, "it's not the best solution," a Mercury News editorial states. "[R]egardless of its noble aims, Proposition 63 is just another example of ballot-box budgeting," the editorial continues. Increasing taxes on those with the highest incomes should be part of a state budget plan during "lean years," but requiring that the revenue be spent exclusively on mental health care "limits the Legislature's flexibility as it tries to build difficult budgets," according to the editorial. The editorial concludes that "putting 'do not touch' signs on slices of revenue on election day is no way to solve the state's budget problems" and urges people to vote "no" on Proposition 63 (San Jose Mercury News, 9/22).
Additional information on Proposition 63 is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.