Lawsuit Expected Over California Budget Cut for Mental Health Effort
Mental health advocates are expected to file a lawsuit challenging the elimination of state funding for a program targeted at homeless patients, the Los Angeles Times reports (Gold/Romney, Los Angeles Times, 11/1).
In August, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) used his line-item veto to cut $55 million for Homeless Adults with Serious Mental Illness, a program that provides housing and treatment to homeless people with mental illnesses, from the state budget.
State officials raised the possibility of counties offering similar services using funds from Proposition 63, a 2004 ballot initiative that raised the state income tax for high-income residents to fund mental health services.
However, county mental health directors contend that using Proposition 63 funds to cover the program would be a violation of the ballot initiative, which prohibits counties from using the money to fund current programs (California Healthline, 9/4).
Moreover, mental health advocates argue that the budget cut violates a provision of Proposition 63 that bars the state from reducing mental health funding below 2004 levels.
Advocates argue that this provision should be on a program-by-program basis, while the state maintains that the provision applies to overall mental health spending. By that standard, the state "fully complies" with Proposition 63, as overall mental health funding has increased above 2004 levels, according to Department of Mental Health Director Stephen Mayberg.
Jim Preis -- executive director of Mental Health Advocacy Services, a public interest law firm in Los Angeles -- said the expected lawsuit likely will focus on the details of Proposition 63 (Los Angeles Times, 11/1).