Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead

OPPOSING PROPOSITION 1 E

OPPOSING PROPOSITION 1 E

by Tilda De Wolfe

Why do I oppose Prop 1E?

The formerly homeless mentally ill man in Orange County who is now working part time for an outreach program and holding his head high; the San Gabriel Valley mental health clients who have been rejected in “regular” jobs, but are now running a wellness center for others with mental illnesses; the central California19 year-old forced by age to leave his foster home who had a complete plan for his suicide, but is now being trained as a a paramedic; the middle-aged woman who lived untreated on the streets for years and now has a place to live and medicines; and the thousands of mental health consumers statewide who have found a voice of empowerment through their work with and through the funds that for the past few years have been added to mental health and would be taken away by Prop 1-E. The stories of successes are legion and would bring tears of sadness, joy, and hope to most eyes.

What does Prop 1E do?

Background: In 2004 California passed the Mental Health Services Act MHSA - in the form of Prop 63. This taxed persons with net earnings of over a million dollars at the rate of 1% over the million and set this money aside to supplement mental health services statewide. The main reason the MHSA proposition passed was that the state had been irresponsibly derelict in providing adequate mental health funding to counties.

A provision of the MHSA was that funds not be used to enhance or supplant existing programs. The reason for this was so that the state not cut other programs and use this money INSTEAD of other funds. However, shortly after MHSA was enacted, Governor Schwarzenegger cut a very effective program that helped those with substance abuse and mental illness called AB1034. A few counties were able to enact a somewhat similar program, but this was a clear case of the state beginning to latch on to funds we voters had earmarked.

Now Prop 1E wants to raid more MHSA funds from MHSA in the guise of providing funding for EPSDT (Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment) services to children. This sounds really sweet and thoughtful, but the state is required to provide about $500 million for this statewide Medi-cal program, so all that would be happening is that the state would be getting part of its obligation funded by taking away services to severely mentally ill clients. “Redirected” would be $226 million this year and $234 million next.

Dangerous Precedent setting

We voters enacted Prop 63 (MHSA) and pulling funds we wanted dedicated for specific uses and using them to balance the state’s budget is a dangerous precedent. It slaps both the voters and a million or so mentally ill persons in the face.

More on my background and opposition

I have mental illness in my family and among friends. I have worked with persons with mental illness as a Probation Officer and as a volunteer with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), of which I am a past president of a local chapter.

I am fortunate enough to travel around the state as a consumer/family member consultant reviewing various counties mental health programs. Although I hear some complaints about how the funding provided by MHSA is utilized, the differences I have seen in each county I have visited are both remarkable and heartwarming. MHSA monies have brought many clients/consumers off the streets (MHSA provides funds to create housing), into programs that give them a reason to go on, into meetings that give them a voice, into jobs, and into collaborations with family members who suffer so greatly also when a loved one has a mental illness.

Prop1E would be penny wise and pound foolish, as many of the people who have been given hope and help would almost surely end up in hospitals, jails – or dead. They already have suffered so many losses. Since Prop 1E has come along I have seen the depression looming, the “Oh, here we go into the trash can again” comments. It is very difficult for most folks with severe mental illnesses to advocate effectively for themselves – frankly it is difficult for many to get out of bed (if they have one), to make it through the day, no less to stand up to those who legislate away their hope. As many of you know, people with severe mental illnesses are most often outcasts in our world. People tend to fear “different” behaviors and we hear of horrific crimes committed by people with such illnesses –untreated or improperly treated, by the way.

Please take the time to go to the polls on Tuesday, May 19 and vote against Prop 1E.

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