Prop 1E Gets New Title & Summary

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[this posting has been updated to reflect additional details on the new wording. --JM]

The May 19 ballot measure to temporarily take money from a 2004 mental health initiative has a new overview that will be presented to voters, after a settlement to a legal challenge was reached this morning.

The challenge to Proposition 1E's ballot title and summary, and its ballot label, was centered on charges by opponents that the Legislature wrote a "false and misleading" overview, in order to make Prop 1E's redirection of some $450 million in mental health funds more palatable.

This was one of two legal challenges scheduled for today against May budget measures; this afternoon, an argument will be made against the Proposition 1A spending cap.

The settlement, which was literally read out loud this morning to Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenney off of a piece of yellow legal pad paper, makes it more clear that Prop 1E takes money away from Proposition 63 mental health funding.

The original ballot title: Ensures Funding For Children's Mental Health Services. Helps Balance State Budget.

The new ballot title: Mental Health Funding. Temporary Reallocation. Helps Balance State Budget.

The original ballot label:
MENTAL HEALTH FUNDING BUDGET. Helps balance the state budget and preserve funding for children’s mental health services by providing temporary flexibility in the Mental Health Services Act to fund the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Program for children. Fiscal Impact: State General Fund savings of about $230 million annually for two years (2009-10 and 2010-11). Corresponding reduction in funding available for Mental Health Services Act programs.

The new ballot label for Prop 1E:
MENTAL HEALTH FUNDING. TEMPORARY REALLOCATION. Helps balance state budget by amending the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63 of 2004) to transfer funds, for two years, to pay for mental health services provided through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program for children and young adults. Fiscal impact: State General Fund savings of about $230 million annually for two years (2009-10 and 2010-11). Corresponding reduction in funding available for Mental Health Services Act programs.

Is this a major change, or a minor one? Probably depends on your feelings about using money once designated for other programs to help balance the state budget.

More on the Prop 1A challenge later today. You can also check out a few real-time Twitterings from the courtroom.

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About John Myers

John Myers is Sacramento Bureau Chief for KQED Public Radio and "The California Report," heard daily on 23 public radio stations across the Golden State.

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