Supporters, Opponents Address Measure To Fund Mental Health Services
The Ventura County Star on Friday examined arguments for and against 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.
Assembly member Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), an author of the ballot measure, said, "I'm taking some criticism for ballot-box budgeting and taxing the wealthy, but the end result is we have to help thousands of people, and we'll do it with accountability."
Rusty Selix, executive director of the California Council of Mental Health Agencies and the Mental Health Association of California, said that Proposition 63 includes oversight rules for how funding from the measure would be spent. "Each county is going to have to come up with a plan and then show the effectiveness of their services," he said, adding, "Every year, the money they get will be based on what they are doing successfully, the need and the cost per person."
However, Larry McCarthy, executive director of the California Taxpayers Association, said, "If we say to the world if you're a millionaire and you come to California, we're going to charge you with a mental health tax, then what we're doing is sending a horrible message to high-income people who are already leaving the state." He added, "The scandal in California has not been the broken promise of funding, it's been the mismanagement of the money in mental health" (Koehler, Ventura County Star, 10/22).
Opponents of Proposition 63, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), "imply that if super-high incomes are tapped for mental health services, they can't be taxed in the future for budget-balancing," but taxes on such incomes "should have been bagged two years ago to help prevent borrowing from the future to pay for daily state expenses," Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton writes in his "Capitol Journal" column.
Skelton writes that "[m]ost politicians -- including this governor -- haven't had the courage" to increase taxes on high-income individuals. Skelton concludes that state residents should vote to "grab the money for a noble, needy cause: Helping mentally ill people escape sleeping under a blanket of newspapers in shopkeepers' doorways" (Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 10/25).
Additional information about Proposition 63 is available online.