Proposed Budget Cuts Could Hurt Mental Health Services
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is trying to make his budget problem easier by eliminating a certain pot of funds for mental health services," a proposal that "would have a damaging impact across the state and in Sacramento County," a Sacramento Bee editorial states (Sacramento Bee, 5/9).
Schwarzenegger in his budget proposal for next fiscal year has proposed eliminating a $55 million program that provides services to homeless adults with mental illnesses.
According to a legislative analysis, the program's clients:
- Were hospitalized about half as often as they were before enrollment;
- Were incarcerated 72% less than before enrollment; and
- Increased their number of days of employment by 65% (California Healthline, 4/10).
The governor is proposing to eliminate state funding for the program and use funding from Proposition 63 to pay for it, according to the editorial. California voters in 2004 approved Proposition 63 to provide funds for mental health care services, but the ballot measure included a provision that limits funds from the measure to new programs.
"Not only does investment in mental health relieve suffering, over the long run it saves money by keeping the mentally ill out of hospitals, prisons and jails," according to the editorial.
The editorial concludes, "In proposing to eliminate [the program], the governor ignores both the public will, and sound and humane public policy" (Sacramento Bee, 5/9).
KQED's "The California Report" on Tuesday reported on California's liability for retiree health care costs. The segment includes comments from State Controller John Chiang (D) (Myers, "The California Report," KQED, 5/8).
Audio of the segment is available online.