California lessons: funds from “millionaire’s tax” for mental illness diverted [Darleen Click]
Keep this in mind for each time Obama and the Left demagogue about the eeeevvviiillleee rich not paying their “fair share.”
As state mental health services have crumbled under budget cuts, tens of millions of dollars raised through a tax designed to help the mentally ill have gone to “wellness” programs like horseback riding for teens and yoga classes for city workers. And that’s by design.
Voters approved Proposition 63, the so-called “millionaire’s tax,” in 2004 to make up for decades of mental health cuts. The ballot summary said it would “expand services and develop innovative programs” for the mentally ill and the text of the measure stipulated 20 percent of the funds would go to programs “effective in preventing mental illnesses from becoming severe” and “reducing the duration of untreated severe mental illnesses.”
In 2007, the Department of Mental Health developed guidelines for counties and dictated that the 20 percent would go to help people who had never been diagnosed with mental illness or even shown any evidence of mental illness. The idea was to promote mental wellness, not just treat mental disorders. [...]
The state has approved spending on acupuncture, art and drama classes, sweat lodges for American Indians, parenting courses for Spanish-speakers and massage chairs for students in Southern California. More than two dozen counties have spent money on anti-bullying programs and several have used it to fund horseback riding therapy, including a $944,843 program in Kings County.
Fresno County spent $315,000 on gardens for Hmong refugees. In San Francisco, Proposition 63 money pays for city workers with mental illness in their families to attend lunchtime yoga classes.[...]
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who wrote Proposition 63 with Selix, doesn’t think a change is needed.
Steinberg, D-Sacramento, allowed that he might have crafted the measure differently if he had known about the dramatic cuts that lay ahead, but defended the prevention programs, which include anti-stigma campaigns, as the best way to start moving beyond a system where people must succumb to their illness before they can get help.
“We knew that most of the people in counties were not in favor of doing prevention, and we feared that they would take that money and divert it to people who were already sick by saying, ‘Well, they could get sicker,’” he said.
h/t Walter Olson where one commenter said “As a group, people with mental and emotional disabilities don’t tend to vote in large numbers. However, city workers, teachers and staff, and folks receiving money for ego-stroking programs do tend to turn out and vote for those who give them such money. So this shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
Tags: california, prop 63