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Ballot Measures, Including Statewide Propositions

 
We will hold a Pros & Cons Forum in 2024 prior to the Presidential Election in November. There are supposed to be a large number of statewide propostions and other ballot measures on the ballot for the Presidential election in November. We will provide information on the pros and cons of all of the statewide propositions and ballot measures  that will appear on your ballot in November at that forum.

We will NOT have a Pros & Cons Forum prior to the Primary election in March 2024 because only one item will appear on the ballot for that election.  Here is a link to the information compiled by the State League on that proposition:
Proposition 1

MENTAL HEALTH CARE AND ADDICTION TREATMENT REFORM & BONDS TO BUILD PLACES FOR TREATMENT AND SUPPORTIVE HOUSING



THE ELECTIONS
There is one statewide ballot measure for the March 2024 election. You can watch a video explainer or read about it below.


STATE LEAGUE INFORMATION/RECOMMENDATION

Although California has a critical need to resource better mental health and addiction
services and to address our crisis of homelessness, the League of Women Voters of
California opposes Proposition 1 for a number of important reasons. While the additional
housing resources offered through Prop 1 are sorely needed, they do not outweigh its
flaws.

The bond portion of the measure was rushed through the legislature with last-minute
amendments that opened the door to funding involuntary treatment in locked facilities.
The rushed nature of these amendments precluded substantive debate and ignored
arguments from diverse community-based organizations and health care and civil rights
advocates. These groups contend that community-based care is more effective than
institutionalization and that incentivizing institutionalization will both lead to worse
health outcomes and curtail individual liberties.

Furthermore, Prop 1 does not increase the overall funding for mental health services for
counties - the bond money is to build treatment units and supportive housing. Under the
changes this measure makes to the Mental Health Services Act, more of the money
received by counties must be used for intensive support services and for housing of a
certain group of patients. This reallocation reduces the funds available for other mental
health services that counties currently offer to patients and has the overall effect of
reducing counties’ ability to set priorities based on local needs for mental health
services. Any variances that may allow counties to spend more or less on specific
categories would increase their administrative costs and do not erase the lack of
flexibility they would have to meet specific needs.

Finally, budgetary decisions should be made by the legislature, not by earmarking funds
through ballot initiatives. Earmarking restricts the counties and the state from redirecting
funds to alternative models of care that may arise in the future, or to other emerging and
essential needs.

RECOMMENDATION: VOTE NO ON PROP 1

THE MEASURE
  • Measure Identification
    • Measure ID: Proposition 1
    • Measure Name: Authorizes $6.38 Billion in Bonds to Build Mental Health Treatment Facilities for Those with Mental Health and Substance Use Challenges; Provides Housing for the Homeless
    • Type of Ballot Measure: Legislative Statute
    • Election: 2024 Primary
    • Download Pros & Cons PDF

THE QUESTION

Should a greater share of county Mental Health Services Act funding be used, and new bonds issued, to build treatment facilities and housing for people with mental illness and substance use disorders as well as housing for other homeless individuals?


THE SITUATION

The Legislature placed Proposition 1 on the ballot.

Annually, $2.0-3.5 billion for mental health services is derived from the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), known as the “Millionaire Tax,” passed by voters in 2004. California’s counties are granted 95% of these funds, with relative flexibility in their use for mental health services and for substance use treatment for people with or at risk of developing mental illness. Currently, total housing and treatment resources are insufficient to address these crises.

In January 2022, approximately 171,500 Californians were homeless. Of that population approximately 75,700 are suffering from severe mental illness and/or chronic substance disorders. Another 10,400 are veterans.


THE PROPOSAL

If passed, Proposition 1 would:
  • Authorize the issuance of bonds to raise $6.4 billion: $4.4 billion to build facilities for treatment of people with mental illness and substance use disorders, and $2 billion to build or renovate housing for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, or who have mental illness or substance use disorders.
  • Shift approximately $140 million of annual MHSA funding, currently available to counties for community-based mental health services, to the state for its mental health services.
  • Divert roughly one third of all county MHSA funding currently used to provide mental health services — including outpatient treatment, crisis response, early intervention, prevention and outreach, and treatment for people with substance use disorder — to housing and personalized support services like employment assistance and education.

FISCAL EFFECTS

Counties would annually receive approximately $140 million less in MHSA funding and would have to use a greater percentage of their MHSA funding for housing and support services and less for community-based mental and behavioral health treatment. Counties would provide more housing and personalized support services but would have less MHSA money for their mental health services. This means counties may need to use other county, state, or federal money to keep current service levels.

The Legislative Analyst Office estimates the bond would pay for building 6,800 treatment beds in new facilities and up to 4,350 housing units, half for veterans experiencing homelessness. The number of new housing units would reduce overall statewide homelessness by approximately 3 percent, although there are also other funding sources for such housing.

The cost to repay the bond from the General Fund over thirty years would be approximately $310 million annually. The total cost to pay off the bonds plus interest would be $6.38 billion plus several more billion, depending on the interest rate.


SUPPORTERS SAY
  • The bond will pay for needed housing for people who are chronically unhoused, including veterans and people with mental or behavioral health challenges.
  • The bond will pay for needed construction and rehabilitation of psychiatric and other facilities necessary for the treatment of people with mental illness or substance use disorders.
  • Proposition 1 provides treatment over incarceration.

OPPONENTS SAY
  • The actual number of newly built or rehabilitated housing units would have minimal impact on reducing overall statewide homelessness.
  • Billions of dollars will be borrowed to build new locked facilities to hide the homeless, the addicted and the mentally ill against their will.
  • Proposition 1 reduces local funding for community and evidence-based treatment that is accessible, effective, and voluntary. Forced treatment is ineffective and associated with higher suicide risk.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
We also will provide links to the Easy Voter Guide compiled by the State League prior to the Presidential election in November that discusses all of the propositions and their recommendations, if any, supporting or opposting them.

(Note: The State League did not prepare an Easy Voter Guide for the Primary Election as there was only one statewide Proposition on the ballot.)  See the information on that Proposition, including the Pros and Cons, above.)

 

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