Supporters of Proposition 63 Ask Counties To Use Funding To Create Community-Based Mental Health Programs
The funding voters earlier this month approved under Proposition 63, which raises the state's personal income tax by 1% on annual incomes that exceed $1 million to fund mental health services, should be used to create "innovative, community-based programs" to improve mental health services across the state, mental health advocates said Tuesday, the Contra Costa Times reports.
With the funding, the state could fill gaps in mental health services in California that have existed for decades, supporters of the initiative say.
Rusty Selix, executive director of the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies, said the funds from the initiative could double the number of people receiving community-based mental health services in the state. Under Proposition 63, the state has the opportunity to shift from a "fail first" approach to a "help first" approach in the area of mental health care, he added.
In the next several months, counties will draft proposals for use of their portion of Proposition 63 funds and hold hearings on the plans. According to the Times, state officials are "just beginning to talk about how to distribute the money," but they have received proposals for entities ranging from juvenile courts to after-school programs.
Proposition 63 supporters have told county officials not to use the funds as a way to address funding shortages in their existing budgets because by doing so they would risk losing their share of the funds.
"We need to make sure our money is spent in a coherent way," former Assembly member Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who led the Yes on 63 campaign, said.
Marvin Southard of the California Mental Health Directors Association said, "Even if it's a billion dollars, it isn't enough money to fix every social problem in the state of California. We need clear direction about what is permitted and not permitted so we can produce plans ... that will really produce the results we're hoping for" (Steffens, Contra Costa Times, 1/5).
In related news, San Francisco Supervisor Sophie Maxwell on Tuesday asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would require about one-third of revenue San Francisco receives under Proposition 63 to be used for programs for people who have been exposed to violence, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The proposal would prioritize funding for counseling services for children and families affected by violence and to violence-prevention programs in the San Francisco Unified School District.
San Francisco officials estimate that the city could receive as much as $50 million annually under the measure (Herel, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/6).