Campaign of Mental Illness – Press release – Right2Treatment’s letter to the Governor opposing the plan to divert Prop 63 funds that are vitally needed for mental health treatment. Given the shortage of funds for essential treatment of those with severe mental disorders in our county and beyond these funds should only be used for bonds for supportive housing for those with severe mental illness with the agreement of participating counties, not swiped by the State for broader purposes.
For Immediate Release: Monday, May 16, 2016
Contact: Rose King 916-768-8012 firstname.lastname@example.org
Coalition Challenges State to Enforce Accountability for Prop 63 $Billions.
Advocates call for MHSA compliance and opposition to a raid on severe mental illness Trust Fund.
A Coalition for Serious Mental Illness is calling upon state officials to ensure compliance with the Prop 63/Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) voter-enacted law. Governor Brown’s budget revise includes a $2 Billion loan from the MHSA Trust Fund for a Senate “housing first” proposal that defies the law. The plan would exclude people with severe mental illnesses who are intended to benefit from Prop 63. Billions would be diverted for other populations and social services. The proposal is unlawful and unworkable, and cannot serve the people with severe mental illnesses identified in law.
At the same time, the governor and legislature have ignored highly critical reports that $Billions in MHSA revenue are unaccounted for. Elected officials at every level have failed to correct the lack of oversight and enforce requirements of the law. The budget proposal would divert resources for other populations, while lawmakers have not determined whether Prop 63 is even serving intended beneficiaries today.
In 2008, a governor’s Department of Finance Audit listed 19 “corrective actions” necessary to comply with MHSA law.“After officials ignored the audit, I filed a whistleblower complaint, which generated support from other critics, and we campaigned for four years to get a public report from the California State Auditor,” Rose King, a Prop 63 co-author, said.“The year-long audit was released in 2013 and condemned all four state agents and four representative counties responsible for implementing the MHSA law.”
In 2013, the State Auditor said they could not determine if the MHSA law was effective, provided benefits, orcomplied with the law. The Audit was followed by a 2015 Little Hoover Commission report of critical shortcomings, including the lack of financial reports linked to a measure of progress. Public officials should know that the public mental health system has no money to spare. There is no evidence that purposes of the MHSA law have been fulfilled, while signs of failure are evident in every county. “There is not a single report of increased access and quality of treatment for people with serious mental illnesses—only continued, anecdotal reports of decline in quality and access,” King said. King also said legislators and the governor must consider an Attorney General Opinion in 2006, which ruled on a similar attempt to divert Prop 63 funds. The Attorney General Opinion for Darrell Steinberg in 2006 vetoed such a plan, citing language of the law, the Legislative Analyst statement, and ballot arguments as evidence. A proposed construction loan would violate MHSA purposes and require another vote of the people. Now, 10 years later, a new proposal attempts to circumvent the intent of the voters.
In a letter to Governor Brown, Senators and Assembly Members, advocates said that housing alone does not serve the Prop 63 population. Housing alone sets people up for failure when wraparound services are not on site and in place. MHSA spending already tried this experiment and failed. A room alone does not relieve people of torturous voices, paranoia, other painful symptoms, or exploitation by others.
The State Must Account for any benefits from $17 Billion in spending before taking more money from serious mental illness. Children and adults cannot access evidence-based community treatment, intensive outpatient care, or essential hospitalizations. Continued complaints from consumers, families, and front-line providers, and investigative reports from news sources, are the only accounts of conditions. No public report of actual performance exists.
“As a wife, mother, and grandmother of brave individuals with severe mental illnesses, as a political professional, and a volunteer community advocate, I know that mental health budgets are always the first to be cut. They are the prime source of funding for other public services, and politicians cut those budgets because they can. There is no protection for treatment money,” King said. SMI Coalition members are meeting with legislators to urge opposition to the misuse of treatment money targeted for serious mental illnesses. The 2016 Senator DeLeon-Darrell Steinberg plan would indebt the state MHSA Trust Fund for $2 Billion by issuing bonds that would cast $3.9 Billion to repay. “Today that money is allocated to counties that can develop supportive housing to meet their local needs,” according to coalition leaders. “There is no rationale for taking the money from counties.”