By Mary O’KEEFE
In addition to the hundreds of candidates running for office this March, there are a couple of propositions voters will find on the ballot.
Prop. 1 is a statewide ballot. It proposes a $6.38 billion bond that will provide funding to build more than 11,150 new behavioral health beds and housing; in addition, it will add 26,700 outpatient treatment slots.
The proposition is known as “Treatment not Tents” and if approved would expand mental health and addiction services for thousands of Californians. The proposition includes $1 billion for veterans experiencing homelessness.
Proponents state this will fill critical needs across the state for the unhoused with severe behavioral health issues and kids suffering from depression, among other needs.
According to a recent poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, 87% of Californians who participated in the poll feel there is currently a mental health crisis in the U.S.
California leads the nation in homelessness. The statewide homeless count will be done at the end of this month. Last January, the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report revealed that on a single day [the day of the count] 653,104 people were experiencing homelessness across the U.S. California had the highest rate – 68%– of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness; Oregon was second at 64.6% and the lowest rate was Vermont 4.2%. A UC San Francisco survey found 82% of people who are homeless have experienced a symptom of mental illness in their lifetime.
Prop. 1 would not change the tax on people with income over $1 million per year. This is a tax that had been collected since 2005, with voter approval of Prop. 63/Mental Health Services Act.
Though there would be no increase in taxation that is already in place the money collected would be used differently. The funding would give up to $4.4 billion to the state program that builds more places for mental health care and drug or alcohol treatment. It would also give $2 billion to the state program that funds local governments to turn hotels, motels and other buildings into housing and construct new housing.
According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, the fiscal impact would shift roughly $140 million annually of existing tax revenue for mental health, drug and alcohol treatment from counties to the state, and increase state bond repayment costs of $310 million annually for 30 years.
The cities of Glendale, Los Angeles and La Cañada Flintridge each have one measure that will be on the March ballot. CVW will cover those measures next week.