Prop 1: More questions than answers

Californians who received their voter guide for the statewide presidential primary on March 5 were probably stunned, first by its 112 pages densely packed with information, then by the fact that 64 pages were devoted to one measure – Proposition 1.

Want more confusion? This is the title: “Authorizes $6.38 billion in bonds to build mental health treatment facilities for those with mental health and substance use challenges; provides housing for the homeless. Legislative statute.”

Make sense yet?

How about the conflicting reports of what Prop 1 is designed to do: Create more treatment centers for the mentally ill? Provide more shelters for the homeless? Both? Neither?

Tulare County Voices @210 is here to help. The monthly forum at 210 W. Center Ave. will explore Proposition 1, the only measure on the March 5 statewide ballot, in hopes of giving voters information to make an informed choice. It is called: “Prop 1: Homelessness or Mental Health. Who Gets the Money?”

The forum will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 210 W. Center Ave. in Visalia.

Joining the discussion on a panel will be Tulare County Mental Health Director Natalie Bolin and local advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness [NAMI], Ralph Nelson.

Proposition 1 is a statewide measure, but it has significant local ramifications. Part of its provisions allows the state to use a greater share of the funding created by Proposition 63, passed by voters in 2004, which levied the “millionaire’s tax,” a 1 percent levy on personal income more than $1 million. The money from Prop 63, the Mental Healty Services Act [MHSA], was designed to help counties pay for treatment programs for a wide range of problems related to behavioral health: substance abuse, suicide prevention, anti-bullying and adolescent mental health, depression, and other mental health issues.

The architects of Proposition 1 determined that Proposition 63 needed adjustment after 10 years and proposed the current measure: It would take a larger share of its own programs to address mental health, with an emphasis on the homeless. It would also borrow about $6.4 billion to build about 4,600 houses for the homeless with mental health issues, of which about half would be reserved for veterans.

Bottom line: More money for the state to spend on homelessness and mental health, less for the counties. No increase in taxes.

Tulare County Voices @210 has become interested in Prop 1 because so little is known about it. Few people with vested interest in the homeless, mental health, housing or veterans say they know enough about the measure to address it confidently. Even the County Board of Supervisors is reluctant to weigh in.

Voters are getting literally no local information about Prop 1 to help with their decision-making.

However, voters are getting plenty of guidance from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has television ads running frequently promising that Prop 1 will simultaneously solve California’s problems with homelessness and those with substance abuse issues.

But we have enough questions about Prop 1 to make it an important topic for our forum:

How will Proposition 1 change mental health funding in Tulare County?

Will passage of Prop 1 mean more shelters for the homeless, and how?

What will be the effect on current projects to provide help for homeless people, such as the navigation center in Tulare, or the Salt+Light project in Goshen?

Will Prop 1 fund more locked-down mental health facilities?

How many beds are available for Tulare County mental health patients, and will that change?

What will be the effect on local substance abuse treatment centers?

Will Prop 1 improve the way things are working now?

Local people who might also have one or more of these questions as they look over their ballots would be served by attending our forum on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 210 W. Center Ave.

Take the time to vote, and join the community conversation.

Paul Hurley is former community conversation editor for the Visalia Times-Delta.Tulare Advance-Register.

4 thoughts on “Prop 1: More questions than answers

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  1. Since you posed these excellent questions Mr. Hurley, I hope you publish your findings in the Valley Voice ASAP! March 5th is just around the corner.

  2. Waiting for Mr. Hurley to post his findings on his questions posted above. Perhaps he didn’t get any of his questions answered.

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