October 13, 2004

California Advocates Promote Proposition 63

This week the Fresno, California Bee (Newspaper) editorial focused on the Mental Health initiative titled "Proposition 63" that is to be voted on this coming November 2 in California.

The editorial noted:

Mental health is a category of spending that has gotten little support in California, and we're paying a terrible price for it.

One just has to look at the number of mentally ill people who crowd our prisons and jails and the growing ranks of the homeless population to make the case. Hardly a family is untouched by the debilitating effects of depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disease or, as the population ages, increasingly dementia.

Mental illness cuts across geography, class, culture, race and income, and as a state we don't spend enough to treat those suffering from it. It's time that we adequately fund the treatment of mental illness. Taxpayers will be paid back many times the investment they make in adequately treating mental illness.

On the Nov. 2 ballot, we can take a small step by passing Proposition 63, which establishes a funding mechanism for mental health services in California. Proposition 63 would levy a 1% tax on incomes above $1 million.

It would work like this: Someone earning a taxable income of $1.5 million would pay 1% of $500,000 or $5,000 extra in income tax. Those earning $2 million would pay 1% of $1 million or an extra $10,000.

The money collected, an estimated $750 million in the coming fiscal year, would be placed in a special fund to be used for expanding mental health services, mostly at the local level. To prevent supplanting, the measure bars the government from reducing allocations for mental health services below current levels -- not for the next few years but forever.


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