Some Counties Cut Mental Health Budgets
Some county mental health departments are cutting programs this fiscal year, despite the more than $300 million counties will receive to fund mental health services, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The funds will be generated through Proposition 63 -- a tax increase on personal incomes exceeding $1 million that California voters approved in 2004 to fund mental health care.
Within five years, the law is expected to provide $1 billion annually for new mental health programs. This fiscal year, counties will receive less than half of the tax revenue generated because the state's mental health care network is not equipped to allocate $1 billion in funding, the Chronicle reports.
Meanwhile, some counties are "making cutbacks on their core programs because they haven't been able to keep up with the cost-of-living increases of doing business as usual," according to Stephen Mayberg, director of the state mental health department.
Contra Costa County is cutting $3 million from its $108 million mental health budget this year. Many of the cuts are for children's programs. Los Angeles County expects to cut $40 million from its budget. Sonoma and Napa counties also said they are reducing mental health budgets, according to an informal survey by the California Mental Health Directors Association.
Rusty Selix, a lobbyist for the Mental Health Association in California and one of the architects of Proposition 63, said that although "[r]evenue supporting existing programs have been in a downturn," Proposition 63 "will more than make up for these cuts" over the long term. Supporters of the law also say new programs funded by the tax will reduce the number of mentally ill residents who are incarcerated or hospitalized, which will lower treatment costs statewide (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/31).