October 2004 Action Alert - Proposition 63


Proposition 63 - Mental Health Services Expansion, Funding. Tax on Personal Incomes Above $1 Million. Initiative Statute.
Status: On November 2, 2004 Ballot.

Proposition 63, commonly called the Mental Health Services Act, will expand mental health care programs in California. This measure provides services to persons currently challenged by mental health problems, persons showing signs of mental health problems in need of prevention services, and to families and caregivers of those affected. To fund this expansion of services, this proposition establishes a state personal income tax surcharge of 1 percent on taxpayers with annual taxable incomes of more than $1 million. Funds resulting from the surcharge would be used to expand county mental health programs.

According to the California Legislative Analyst's Summary, Proposition 63:

  • Provides funds to counties to expand services and develop innovative programs and integrated service plans for mentally ill children, adults and seniors;
  • Requires state to develop mental health service programs including prevention, early intervention, education and training programs;
  • Imposes additional 1% tax on taxpayers' taxable personal income above $1 million to provide dedicated funding for expansion of mental health services and programs; and
  • Prohibits the state from decreasing funding levels for mental health services below current levels.

Beginning in 2004-05, revenues deposited in the Mental Health Services Fund would be used to create new county mental health programs and to expand some existing programs. Specifically, the funds could be used for the following activities (among others):

  • Adult System of Care. Expansion of existing county system of care services for adults with serious mental disorders or who are at serious risk of such disorders if they do not receive treatment.
  • Prevention and Early Intervention. New county prevention and early intervention programs to get persons showing early signs of a mental illness into treatment quickly before their illness becomes more severe.
  • "Innovation" Programs. New county programs to experiment with ways to improve access to mental health services, including for underserved groups, to improve program quality, or to promote interagency collaboration in the delivery of services to clients.
  • Mental Health Workforce: Education and Training. Stipends, loan forgiveness, scholarship programs, and other new efforts to (1) address existing shortages of mental health staffing in county programs and (2) help provide the additional staffing that would be needed to carry out the program expansions proposed in this measure.

The measure uses the "integrated services" model to provide a range of services, including outreach, medical care, short and long-term housing, prescription drugs, vocational training, and self-help and social rehabilitation. Persons and families without insurance, or for whom insurance coverage of mental health care has been exhausted, would be eligible to receive services. Family payment obligations would be on a sliding fee schedule based on ability to pay.

The initiative will directly raise approximately $700 million dollars per year for mental health services in California. Because of the initiative, California would also qualify for additional federal funds, raising the annual total to more than $1 billion. Proponents argue that by treating mental illness earlier and more effectively, savings are generated in reduced hospital costs, jail costs, and medical and welfare costs. The Legislative Analyst's office estimates that state and local savings could amount to the low hundreds of millions annually.

The mental health advocacy community is actively working to make expanded mental health services a reality in California. If you are in support of expanded mental health services and this proposition, encourage your family members, friends and colleagues to support the proposition when they cast their ballot in November.

To keep abreast of the activities occurring in support of the proposition, you can sign up to receive email updates on the website of the Campaign for Mental Health (www.YESon63.org).