Some Health-Related Ballot Measures Could Affect Santa Clara County Budget
The outcome of several measures on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot -- including three health-related initiatives -- could affect how much the Santa Clara County budget deficit "shrinks or grows in the next several years," the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Proposition 63, a ballot measure to fund mental health services, could generate $35 million annually for the county, according to the Mercury News (Reang, San Jose Mercury News, 11/1). The measure would increase taxes by 1% for residents earning more than $1 million a year to fund mental health services (California Healthline, 11/1).
The Mercury News reports that Proposition 67 could provide an additional $1 million to $2 million for the county (San Jose Mercury News, 11/1). The initiative would impose a 3% surcharge on telephone bills to fund emergency departments, trauma centers and health clinics and pay for physician training and emergency medical equipment (California Healthline, 11/1).
In addition, Santa Clara County's health and hospital system could receive a "bigger revenue stream" if a majority of residents vote "yes" on Proposition 72 to uphold SB 2, a measure that would require some employers to provide health insurance to workers, according to the Mercury News (San Jose Mercury News, 11/1). The proposition is a referendum on SB 2, a state law scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, that will require some employers to provide health insurance to workers or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage. Under the referendum, state residents can vote "yes" to uphold SB 2 or "no" to repeal it (California Healthline, 11/1).
Last month, county supervisors announced an estimated $127 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2005-2006, and a recent five-year budget forecast states that deficits will last through 2009.
Supervisor Jim Beall, vice president of the finance and government operations committee, said, "This is D-Day for the county. A lot of our future is going to be determined on Election Day."
However, County Executive Pete Kutras said that county budget deficits likely will continue regardless of the outcome of the election. He said, "It's becoming very daunting. We've got departments that are at rock bottom of their service levels" (San Jose Mercury News, 11/1).
Additional information on propositions 63, 67 and 72 is available online.