AB-100 diverted $863 million in MHSA funds from intended recipients.
AB-1467 exempted $50 million annually in MHSA funds from helping persons with serious mental illness.
MHSA funds were supposed to serve people with serious mental illness. These two bills by Senate Leader Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg prevented the funds from doing that.
California had preexisting responsibilities to serve people with serious mental illness, some of which were mandated by courts. For example, to special education students. When passing Proposition 63, voters included a provision stating the funds shall not be used to supplant other state funding (FOOTNOTE 1). In other words, the funds should be used to increase capacity not fund already funded initiatives. In 2011, legislators passed AB 100 with provisions inserted by Senator Steinberg. It modified the MHSA non-supplantation provision to allow the state to divert about $836 million of funds raised by MHSA to satisfy the other commitments the state had. This was done as a ‘clarifying’ amendment to allow passage with a 51% vote rather than a two-thirds vote required to overturn voter enacted legislation.
This amendment used MHSA funds to be used to lower the deficit, rather than expand services.
When Proposition 63 was originally passed, voters allocated 5% of MHSA funds for Innovative Services
“To expand the kinds of successful, innovative service programs for children, adults and seniors…(that) have already demonstrated their effectiveness in providing outreach and integrated services, including medically necessary psychiatric services, and other services, to individuals most severely affected by or at risk of serious mental illness.”
The programs would be approved by the Oversight Commission and were “(1) To increase access to underserved groups. (2) To increase the quality of services, including better outcomes. (3) To promote interagency collaboration. (4) To increase access to services.” (WIC 5830).
In July 2012, AB1467 added new language that greatly expanded the allowable uses of these funds. The legislation severed the tie of Innovative Funds from helping “individuals most severely affected by or at risk of serious mental illness” to doing almost anything for anyone. In part, new language stated
“An innovative project may affect virtually any aspect of mental health practices or assess a new or changed application of a promising approach to solving persistent, seemingly intractable mental health challenges, including, but not limited to, any of the following:
(1) Administrative, governance, and organizational practices, processes, or procedures. (2) Advocacy. (3) Education and training for service providers, including nontraditional mental health practitioners. (4) Outreach, capacity building, and community development. (5) System development. (6) Public education efforts. (7) Research. (8) Services and interventions, including prevention, early intervention, and treatment.
It freed funds for advertising, yoga, advocacy, community development, almost anything.
This amendment was passed with a simple majority, rather than the 2/3rds vote that should have been required. This was accomplished by defining it as a ‘clarifying’ amendment rather than what it really was: an amendment that changed a voter initiative.
This amendment diverted funds from people with serious mental illness.
FOOTNOTE 1 There is a “non-supplantation” clause of Prop 63 that requires the maintenance of funding for previously existing programs so MHSA funds can result in incremental activity. “5891. The funding established pursuant to this act shall be utilized to expand mental health services. These funds shall not be used to supplant existing state or county funds utilized to provide mental health services. The state shall continue to provide financial support for mental health programs with not less than the same entitlements, amounts of allocations from the General Fund and formula distributions of dedicated funds as provided in the last fiscal year…”