Wednesday, December 17, 2008

State Republicans Target Homeless Mental-Health Services

It now official. Republicans state lawmakers have put forward a proposal that would siphon off funds dedicated to funding mental health services for homeless adults to help reduce the looming humongous budget deficit, now projected to be $40 billion over the next 18 months.

According to an article in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle, titled “GOP budget plan: Slash $10 billion from schools,” diverting Prop 63 funds away from homeless services is part of a $22 billion measure California Republican assemblymen and state senators are proposing.

Proposition 63 – which was passed by California voters in 2004 – assesses a 1% surtax on taxpayer earnings exceeding $1,000,000 per year for the specific use of mental-health services. Republicans want to eliminate the programs the surtax funds and, instead, use the approximate $1 billion raised in 18 months for “general use” - that is, to partially plug the huge state deficit.

To accomplish their plans, in whole or part, the Republican lawmakers, who are a minority in both the state senate and assembly, would have to reach agreement with the majority Democrats and Republican Governor Swartzenegger, who sides mostly with the Democrats on budget issues. Changing Prop 63 would also require approval of California voters in a special election.

[This is an update of information posted yesterday in SacHo on the threat to homeless mental-health funding: "Enormous State Deficit Threatens Funding for Homeless Mental-Health Programs."]

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