In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). This legislation sets up a one percent income tax on anyone who makes more than $1 million a year, with the revenue from the tax going towards funding mental health services across the state.
On this year’s ballot, voters will have a chance to cast their vote on Proposition 2, which would amend the MHSA to allow the state to use of the millionaire tax revenue (instead of the wider revenue stream that affects all taxpayers) on $2 billion in revenue bonds for housing for people in need of mental health services.
Normally, revenue bonds don’t require voter approval. However, because Prop 2 would spend money collected under a ballot measure that’s already on the books, voters must cast a ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ vote.
Prop 2 supporters, which include the California Police Chiefs Association and the non-profit Mental Health American of California, say a ‘yes’ vote would mean that 20,000 permanent supportive housing units would be constructed under the “No Place Like Home” program, providing not only housing stability but also coordinated mental health services and medical care for the vulnerable population of Californians experiencing homelessness complicated by mental illness but are unable or unwilling to seek treatment.
The Contra Costa County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness is the only official opposition to Prop 2. They say their members are “mostly family members with ‘skin in the game’” and that while they support funding for housing, this proposition would just give money to developers and spend billions earmarked by Prop 63 for treatment of the severely mentally ill. They feel the money would be better spend on direct treatment of severe mental illness.
Today on AirTalk, we’ll debate the pros and cons of Proposition 2.
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Darrell Steinberg, mayor of Sacramento and founder of the Steinberg Institute, a Sacramento-based nonprofit organization seeking to increase awareness on issues of brain health and which sponsored California’s No Place Like Home program, which Prop 2 seeks to put in motion; he tweets @Mayor_Steinberg
Douglas Dunn, chair of the legislative committee for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) -- Contra Costa County affiliate, which officially opposes Prop 2 and wrote the official argument against it in the state voter guide