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Before voting: Here's a briefing on statewide Proposition 1 and why it matters

March 5 is primary election day; be prepared with all the info to vote

By ONME Newswire

Super Tuesday is next week, where over 17 other states besides California will have voting precincts open for the presidential primary elections happening on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, voters are still grappling with propositions and measures that have bombarded their mailboxes, emails and mobile devices. So let's start with the only statewide proposition on the ballot, Proposition 1.

Proposition 1

This proposition is heavily backed by California governor, Gavin Newsom with a host of supporters to follow:

  • California Teachers Association

  • Service Employees International Union California

  • California Democratic Party

  • California Business Roundtable

  • California Labor Federation

  • California Hospital Association

  • California Medical Association

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness California

  • Steinberg Institute

Newsom's pitch to California voters is that a $6.4 billion bond will expand the state’s mental health and substance abuse treatment infrastructure.

However, local programs feel threatened because local dollars will be rerouted from their community-based programs, they profess, which are working successfully to treat mental illness in their neighborhoods. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said the $6.4 billion bond will take California tax payers decades to pay back the actual cost of $10 billion total cost, and this is one of the most expensive ways to pay for healthcare.

So why a statewide measure of this magnitude when there are already county and city programs purporting mental health services locally?

According to Mental Health America 2022 statistics, California ranks 36 in the nation because of its relatively low access to mental health services, although there is a high rate of individuals in need of mental health services.

In June 2023, The San Francisco Chronicle did an in-depth report about the mental health crisis in California. The article stated how California has an extreme shortage of mental health beds. And it has failed to adequately care for its hardest-to-serve population: people with mental illness who also have a criminal record — including those with a history of violence. The article continued to explain that state intervention is a necessity; it is evident that cities and counties across the state cannot do it alone, especially San Francisco, the governor's home city and initial political roots. Their are too many road blocks at this point and the system is "clogged."

The news article went into significant detail about California's once state-lead mental health services that decentralized funding and its regulations around the 1950s; many people were complaining about the inhumane treatment of individuals getting these state-lead mental health services at the time. The state had less priority in helping with mental health services especially during the Governor Ronald Reagan years around 1967, many state-lead facilities were shut down

Today, however, cities and counties are at a different crossroad where the state of California does need to intervene in some cities and counties. It also, of course, would have to change its practice of being inhumane to those it is servicing, which is a concern many community-based programs have if the state gains local control. At the same time, cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles have their streets clogged with tents for the homeless on main blocks. There are not enough beds or services for these counties to manage by themselves. Due to the fentanyl crisis, the need for mental services before, during and after the addiction is increasing.

A closer look at state intervention this time around is advisable to those who vote yes for Proposition 1. Determine over the next few years the state of your neighborhood now and then two years from now when it comes to mental health services and humane treatment of those seeking these services. And also determine: Are those with mental illness who are normally on the street, do they now have access to a bed or housing?

For those who vote no on Proposition 1, then that means you have checked out your local community-based programs in your area in regards to mental health services and these programs are effectively working. It also means that more than 50% of those suffering from mental illness in your area have access to local, humane services that can help them and temporarily house them if necessary.


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