Measure To Fund Mental Health Services Would Generate $275 Million in 2004-2005 for Mental Health Services, Legislative Analyst’s Office Estimates
Proposition 63, a measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot to fund state mental health programs, 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, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (Mesfin, AP/San Jose Mercury News). 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 (California Healthline, 9/13). A recent Field Poll showed that among voters Proposition 63 was the most popular of the four health-related measures on the ballot.
Advocates of Proposition 63 say that the state often passes over mental health programs in favor of social service programs and that funding promised to mental health programs is not always received, according to the AP/Mercury News. "The untold story in mental health is how much we had to cut and cut," Steve Fields, executive director of San Francisco's not-for-profit Progress Foundation, said. He added, "The mental health system has basically been on a starvation diet for the last 20 years."
Opponents of Proposition 63 say that while the measure is well-intentioned, it is shortsighted and singles out a group of taxpayers who didn't create the funding problems. Some fear the 25,000 to 30,000 residents who would be affected by the tax increase could move to "more tax-friendly states," the AP/Mercury News reports. "We don't need anymore tax increases. If these mental health programs are that valuable, then they should have a priority on existing revenues, not a higher tax increase," Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal said (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 9/19).
Funding for "[m]ajor state programs should rely on [a] more stable, more equally distributed source of revenue, not a volatile one that targets a specific group to pay for a specific program," a Contra Costa Times editorial states. Voting "no" on Proposition 63 "would be the rejection of a fiscally questionable means of funding" mental health services, not "a vote against helping the mentally ill," the editorial concludes (Contra Costa Times, 9/16).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.