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AirTalk debates 2018 ballot initiatives: Proposition 2 -- use millionaire’s tax revenue for homelessness prevention housing bonds

PASADENA, CA - MAY 19:  A California state flag flies near a pro-initiatives banner at the headquarters of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 12, as voters go to the polls for a special election called by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers to decide on statewide budget-balancing ballot propositions on May 19, 2009 in Pasadena, California. The governor says that a passage of the suite of measures is crucial to repairing the state budget crisis. The initiatives were put forth to voters after a drawn-out battle between politicians to solve the deficit which has resulted in painful cuts to education and services and the loss of thousands of jobs. The deficit is projected to hit $15.4 billion in the fiscal year that begins in July if voters pass the ballot measures. If not, the deficit will balloon to $21.3 billion, according to the governors office. Polls though indicate that Proposition 1F, which prohibits the governor, lawmakers and other state officials from getting pay raises any time the state has a budget deficit, is the only one of the six measures that appears to have enough support to pass. It is the 12th times in seven years that Californians have been faced with complex budget measures. Voter turnout is expected to be low.   (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
David McNew/Getty Images
A California state flag flies near a pro-initiatives banner at the headquarters of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 12

In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). This legislation set up a one percent income tax on anyone who makes more than $1 million a year, with the revenue from the tax going towards funding mental health services across the state

In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). This legislation sets up a one percent income tax on anyone who makes more than $1 million a year, with the revenue from the tax going towards funding mental health services across the state.

On this year’s ballot, voters will have a chance to cast their vote on Proposition 2, which would amend the MHSA to allow the state to use of the millionaire tax revenue (instead of the wider revenue stream that affects all taxpayers) on $2 billion in revenue bonds for housing for people in need of mental health services.

Normally, revenue bonds don’t require voter approval. However, because Prop 2 would spend money collected under a ballot measure that’s already on the books, voters must cast a ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ vote.

Prop 2 supporters, which include the California Police Chiefs Association and the non-profit Mental Health American of California, say a ‘yes’ vote would mean that 20,000 permanent supportive housing units would be constructed under the “No Place Like Home” program, providing not only housing stability but also coordinated mental health services and medical care for the vulnerable population of Californians experiencing homelessness complicated by mental illness but are unable or unwilling to seek treatment.

The Contra Costa County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness is the only official opposition to Prop 2. They say their members are “mostly family members with ‘skin in the game’” and that while they support funding for housing, this proposition would just give money to developers and spend billions earmarked by Prop 63 for treatment of the severely mentally ill. They feel the money would be better spend on direct treatment of severe mental illness.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll debate the pros and cons of Proposition 2.

Ready for Election Day? Get up to speed on what you need to know with our Voter Game Plan at elections.laist.com. Read up on the candidates and ballot measures, find out about registration deadlines or ask us your questions.

Guests:

Darrell Steinberg, mayor of Sacramento and founder of the Steinberg Institute, a Sacramento-based nonprofit organization seeking to increase awareness on issues of brain health and which sponsored California’s No Place Like Home program, which Prop 2 seeks to put in motion; he tweets

Douglas Dunn, chair of the legislative committee for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) -- Contra Costa County affiliate, which officially opposes Prop 2 and wrote the official argument against it in the state voter guide

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