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Levy for Mental Health

Summary: This measure would raise the tax on incomes of more than $1 million a year by adding a 1% surcharge. The money would be spent on creating new county mental health programs and expanding existing programs. The programs involved would provide services for the poor who lack insurance, expand preventive treatment, add staff at mental health facilities and provide services for families with a mentally ill child.

The state would begin collecting the tax in January 2005.

Supporters: The measure was placed on the ballot by the Campaign for Mental Health. The chairman of the state Assembly’s Budget Committee, Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), is leading the push for the measure.

Opponents: The measure is opposed by anti-tax activists and business groups, including Citizens for a Healthy Economy, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. and the California Chamber of Commerce.

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Impact: Between 25,000 and 30,000 taxpayers with incomes of more than $1 million a year would pay higher taxes. It is estimated that the measure would raise more than $600 million annually. Passage would represent a major end run around the Legislature by advocates of more spending on social services. Steinberg and other backers of the measure say the state has failed for decades to live up to promises to provide money for local mental health programs. Their efforts to get a tax increase for these programs through the Legislature have been stopped by Republican lawmakers.

Opponents say passage would chase business owners and venture capitalists away from California, contributing to the state’s economic woes.

Websites: Campaign for Mental Health: www.yeson63.org.

The No on 63 Campaign: www.noon63.com.


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