Two members of the state Assembly Health Committee are seeking changes to how California spends funding on mental health programs, AP/U-T San Diego reports (Dreier, AP/U-T San Diego, 7/30).
The Mental Health Services Act -- known as Proposition 63 -- has raised $7.4 billion through a 1% tax on residents with incomes greater than $1 million annually.
A recent AP report found that tens of millions of dollars generated by Prop. 63 have been allocated to aid residents who have not been diagnosed with a mental illness. The report found that the money has been used to bolster programs such as yoga, art and drama classes, horseback riding and gardening.
Seeking Changes to Mental Health Spending
On Monday, Assembly member Dan Logue (R-Linda) told the AP that he will call for an independent audit by the state Treasurer's Office on the use of Prop. 63 revenue.
Logue also said he expects to send a letter Tuesday to Assembly Health Committee Chair Bill Monning (D-Carmel), asking him to hold an oversight hearing on the matter as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Assembly member Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert) said he would support legislation to clarify how the funds can be used.
In addition, some mental health advocates and public health workers want state lawmakers to approve a "clarifying amendment" saying that money raised by Prop. 63 can only be used to help people with mental and emotional problems.
Response to Spending Criticisms
Rhys Williams -- a spokesperson for Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and co-writer of Prop. 63 -- defended state spending on preventive mental health care programs. He discussed two programs recently highlighted by the Los Angeles Times.
Williams said, "There are thousands of other triumphs like these that go unreported and demonstrate that these programs work and are making a real difference in the lives of Californians who might otherwise be homeless, in prison, or even dead" (AP/U-T San Diego, 7/30).