Proposition 63

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Mental Health Funds Well-Spent or Wasted? Prop. 63 Authors Divided

By Elaine Korry, KQED

Young people with mental health needs find help through art therapy at Daniel's Place, a drop-in center in Santa Monica. (Elaine Korry/KQED)

Young people with mental health needs find help through art therapy at Daniel’s Place, a drop-in center in Santa Monica. (Elaine Korry/KQED)

Remember Proposition 63? The voter initiative known as the Mental Health Services Act was approved in 2004. It imposed a 1 percent surtax on income over $1 million to fund services for Californians with a serious mental illness. Now, nine years later, the state auditor is about to release a long-awaited report, detailing how nearly $9 billion in taxpayer money raised by Prop. 63 has been spent. Whether that money has been spent wisely is being hotly debated, and even the bill’s co-authors are divided.

“What did they do with the money? Where has all the money gone? We would like to know,” said Rose King, one of the initiative’s original co-authors. Lawmakers requested the audit after whistle-blowers including King complained that the funds were being misused.

As written, nearly three-quarters of the money raised by Prop 63 was slated to fund services for people already diagnosed with a severe mental illness. Twenty percent was reserved for prevention and early intervention strategies. The remaining funds would go to oversight, administration, and innovations. Continue reading