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The state can’t use funding for the mentally ill to pay its debts

Posted: March 11, 2009 7:11 p.m.
Updated: March 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

The state can't use funding for the mentally ill to pay its debts

Proposition 63, passed by voters in 2004, is known as the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). Proposition 63 imposed a 1-percent income tax on millionaires and uses that money to provide funding and personnel to support county mental health programs. The Mental Health Services Act has helped 30 percent of the homeless mentally ill to get off the streets and into recovery.

Now the tentative budget agreement, which was voted last Friday, includes using the Proposition 63 money to balance the budget.

Not only is using MHSA money in this way illegal, it will also devastate mental health services in Los Angeles County because the county has relied mainly on MHSA money and very little on money from the general fund.

Mentally ill people deserve treatment and help just like anyone who is suffering from an illness. It is not the fault of the mentally ill that they have severe biological imbalances that cause problems like psychosis, delusions, anxiety and depression.

Mental health treatment works and keeps taxpayers from having to pay more money for incarceration or hospitalization of the mentally ill.

This plan to use MHSA money to balance California's budget may save money now, but it will cost taxpayers much more money in the future.

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