Mental Health Funds Exceed Estimates
A tax to fund mental health programs is expected to generate 57% more money than originally projected, according to the Department of Finance, Capitol Weekly reports. Voters approved Proposition 63 in 2004 to tax residents with incomes higher than $1 million to fund mental health care.
The Legislative Analyst's Office in 2004 estimated that the tax would generate $750 million for new programs in fiscal year 2005-2006 and $800 million this year. But according to the Department of Finance, the tax is expected to generate $1.18 billion in FY 2005-2006 and $1.25 billion in FY 2006-2007.
Carol Hood, deputy director of the Department of Mental Health, said the Schwarzenegger administration believes the increased revenue is a one-time boon.
Former Assembly member Darrell Steinberg, who helped write Proposition 63 and chairs the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, said the commission will keep a reserve of 50% of the previous year's total funding to compensate for future market downturns.
Meanwhile, counties are working to implement mental health infrastructures capable of properly spending the funds on new programs. The proposition stipulates that the funding cannot be used for existing services, a requirement that has left core mental-services programs facing budget cuts while counties quickly try to develop new programs (Goldmacher, Capitol Weekly, 8/16).