San Francisco Chronicle Examines Ballot Measure To Fund Mental Health Programs
The San Francisco Chronicle on Friday examined Proposition 63, a measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that would increase taxes by 1% for state residents with taxable annual incomes of more than $1 million to fund mental health programs statewide.
The 25,000 taxpayers whom Proposition 63 would affect would contribute an estimated $800 million for mental health programs in fiscal year 2005, with the amount expected to increase in subsequent years, according to a legislative analyst's review of the measure.
Supporters, who have collected more than $3 million to promote Proposition 63, maintain that the measure would address the failure of the state to "follow through on a promise to adequately fund community-based mental health programs after hospitals were closed in the late 1960s," according to the Chronicle.
Opponents, who have collected $7,000 to oppose Proposition 63, "do not question the goals of the initiative but believe a tax increase on the ballot is the wrong approach," the Chronicle reports (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/22).
According to a Los Angeles Times poll of 1,345 California voters conducted from Oct. 14 to 18, 54% of likely voters said that they support Proposition 63, compared with 27% who said that they opposed the measure and 19% who were undecided (California Healthline, 10/20).
The Ventura County Medical Health Board voted unanimously at a September meeting to write a letter in support of Proposition 63, and on Nov. 2 "it's the public's turn" to "get the job done" by voting "yes" on the measure, Irene Mellick, a board member, writes in a Ventura County Star opinion piece.
The state has failed to adequately fund mental health programs, and "there are no funds in our county budget to provide the needed care without hurting other needed programs, so a new way had to be found," Mellick writes.
"Mental illness is an equal-opportunity problem for rich or poor, any race or creed," and "no one has proposed another alternative to Proposition 63 that is cost-effective and builds a system of care," she concludes (Mellick, Ventura County Star, 10/21).