On Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D) formally requested a state audit of billions of dollars in mental health funds raised by Proposition 63, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports (Sanders, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 8/15).
Prop. 63 -- also known as The Mental Health Services Act -- has raised $7.4 billion through a 1% tax on residents with incomes greater than $1 million annually.
A recent Associated Press 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.
Earlier this month, Assembly members Dan Logue (R-Linda) and Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert) -- requested that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee conduct an audit of how California spends funding generated by Prop. 63 (California Healthline, 8/9).
Details of Steinberg's Request
In a prepared statement, Steinberg said that some of the criticisms against the state's use of Prop. 63 funding might be valid.
However, he said that the majority of Prop. 63 funding has been well spent. For example, he said the gardening program cited in the AP report was developed to attract Hmong immigrants who might require mental health care but do not seek help for cultural reasons.
However, Steinberg said, "The public needs and deserves to know the actual outcomes of all these investments," adding, "A detailed review of performance and outcomes will answer those questions."
Mark Hedlund -- Steinberg's spokesperson -- said that the audit would:
- Track Prop. 63 funds raised in recent years;
- Examine how the money was spent; and
- Evaluate the effectiveness of services aided by the funding.
Hedlund said that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee will consider Steinberg's request before the Legislatures adjourns Aug. 31 ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee