No on Proposition 1, a costly bureaucratic power grab – Orange County Register

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Proposition 1 on the March 5 ballot is a costly bureaucratic power grab that robs counties of mental health services funding and saddles taxpayers with $6.38 billion in debt for what amounts to a bloated version of Project Roomkey and L.A.’s Measure HHH.

Project Roomkey was the pandemic program of placing homeless individuals in hotel rooms with optional supportive services. Measure HHH was a $1.2 billion bond for homeless housing that has cost as much as $800,000 per unit.

Proposition 1, which will appear on the March 5 ballot that mails out to voters statewide by February 5, is being marketed by Gov. Gavin Newsom as a “transformational” solution to the mental health crisis, alcohol and drug addiction, and homelessness. Don’t fall for it.

In addition to adding $6.38 billion to the state’s $80 billion bond debt, Proposition 1 permanently raids the funding for mental health services that voters approved in 2004 with Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act. That measure put a 1% tax on incomes over $1 million, and it typically generates between $2 billion and $3.5 billion per year. By law, 95% of the money goes to the counties for mental health services and the state takes 5% for mental health programs.

But Proposition 1 would change that. The state would take 10% of the money, leaving less for the counties to cover the cost of existing programs. In addition, the measure requires the counties to spend about 30% of their Prop. 63 funds on housing programs. Not only does that leave less for mental health services, it forfeits federal matching funds for health care by spending the money on housing instead.

Politics is baked into Proposition 1. It establishes mental health and behavioral health services “oversight and accountability” commissions with a total of 43 voting members, variously appointed by the attorney general, the superintendent of public instruction, Assembly and Senate committee chairs and the governor.

That’s a concern because, according to the Legislative Analyst, “The types of places that would be built with bond funds would depend on future decisions by the state.” Voters are being asked to sign a blank check to spent $4.4 billion on unspecified “places” for mental health care and drug and alcohol treatment.

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