CAVSA in the News

NBC San Diego

Proposition 1 will appear on the March 2024 ballot in California. The $6.38 billion bond would use funds from California’s so-called millionaire tax to increase facility capacity for people in need of mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Back in 2004, California voters passed Prop 63, or the Mental Health Services Act. It imposed a 1% income tax on people making a million dollars a year, and the revenue generated is used for mental health services. Prop 1 would not change the tax itself but would reimagine the mental health services provided.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to endorse the proposition, which includes plans for 6,800 new beds for mental health and substance abuse treatment and 4,350 new housing units, with 2,350 set aside for veterans.

“It’s time for treatment, not tents for people across the state of California,” Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer said. “One of the biggest challenges we face here is lack of infrastructure, lack of facilities, lack of beds where people can get treatment.”

Not all the supervisors, however, believe Prop 1 is in the interest of all San Diegans. Supervisor Joel Anderson worries the bond will come at a cost to San Diegans who are already receiving behavioral health services.

If Prop 1 passes, counties will receive 90% of the Mental Health Services Act revenue, rather than the 95% they currently receive. The 10% collected by the state would be used to repay $6 billion in bonds.

“It’s one size fits all. There are 58 different counties, and we’re the one of the counties, if not the county, who’s leading the charge on mental health,” Anderson said.

Lawson-Remer, meanwhile, said Prop 1 is an investment in the county’s ability to address homelessness and mental health. She said the proposition would especially benefit San Diego because of its large veteran population.

“We need the state support in order to build these facilities,” Lawson-Remer said. “At the end of the day, you can’t treat people if they’re sleeping in tents.”

Akilah Templeton is the CEO of Veterans Village of San Diego. She said she has seen veterans in need, or even crisis, be unable to access the help they need.

“Put simply, we just don’t have the resources,” said Templeton, who hopes more services can help curtail the veteran suicide epidemic. “Reducing those wait times and getting people the care that they need I think would go a long way in helping us to also solve that problem as well. And our heroes deserve that.”