Friday, May 15, 2009

Email to Californians: Vote NO on Prop 1E this May 19!


Video: New America Foundation's Mark Paul on the California budget - "California educates, medicates, and incarcerates"

Brief summary of Propositions by the Guardsman

Legislative Analyst's Office: California's Cash Flow Crisis Update 

OIA! received the email below and is reposting it here.  Below the email is more info on the Props forwarded on from the Courage Campaign.  Read on:


This email contains my argument for why you should vote No on 1E (Divert Prop 63 funds) and at the bottom of this email you can find info from the Courage Campaign (a progressive Cali-based grassroots organization) that contains a voter guide and their endorsements on what/what not to vote for.  Please find references below the email, if they don't go deep enough for you, please feel free to do further research.  Also, forward this email on if you like.  The more people who vote no on 1E the better I say!

Voting NO on Prop 1E:

I worked first hand all of last year on a project studying the access of monolingual Spanish speakers to services in their language (which is their right by law if they have Medi-Cal or Medicare) to publicly funded mental health care in LA County. In the process I learned A LOT about California and specifically LA County's public mental health system.  Apparently 1E would to divert funds from Mental Health Services Act Programs (MHSA - this is the web of programs created and funded by Prop 63) to pay for a program that is federally mandated (so states HAVE to fund this program) called Early Periodic Screening Treatment and Diagnosis Program, which screens and treats illness in youth who have Medi-Cal health insurance (insurance through the state of CA...vs Medicare which is federal) 

Info on Prop 1E, see this link:  

The link above will give you the following information:
Proponents of Prop. 1E

Proponents of Prop. 1E, led by Prop. 63 co-author, state Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D–Sacramento), say California's unprecedented fiscal crisis necessitates this effort to balance the budget. Proponents also claim that the delays in starting some of Prop. 63's mental health programs resulted in $2.5 billion being held in state coffers. They state that these reserves are more than enough to fund current Prop. 63 mental health services. While they agree that diverting the funds to other programs will reduce the availability of new mental health services, they contend it is necessary to avoid “deeper cuts in other vital state services.”

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Opponents of Prop. 1E

Opponents of Prop. 1E say that diverting funds from Mental Health Services Act recipients at a time when state and local revenues are already waning will lead to thousands in need of mental health services going untreated. They contend that MHSA results in lower mental health costs by providing early, cost-effective care and treatment. They point to a recent report by the Legislative Analyst's Office indicating that cities and counties may have to pay more for homeless shelters, social services, medical care, law enforcement, and incarceration as a consequence of the defunding of mental health services.

I am not sending this email as a commentary on how important or not the Early Periodic Screening program is.  I am sending this email because I think it will be a TERRIBLE idea to cut Prop 63 funding for MHSA programs.  I can only imagine that the impact of diverting prop 63 funds would be HUGE.  Sure, maybe it would somewhat help in the short short run (as in...this year...maybe), but in the long run it is going to be devastating to some of the most vulnerable of California's citizens. Further, based on what I have learned, I would hedge a guess to say that the $2.5 billion in hold that they are talking about would likely be spent in a year max if Prop 1E were to pass, leaving us with the question in about 6 months of...what now?  Even further, it is likely that this money is on hold not because there was just a lot of extra money generated by Prop 63, but because the final phases of MHSA programs are still being put into action.  The last set of planning committees for ideas on how to structure the final phase of were just conducted last November.  I know this, because I was there and was able to participate in these planning meetings, which were open to the public and which represented a wide range of LA's cultures, language groups, ethnicities, religions, gender identities, sexual identities, etc.  These have been organically designed FOR the people BY the people, and cutting Prop 63 funding would kill that.

I further think it would be terrible to divert Prop 63 monies for the following reasons:

-  The money is used for programs to treat severely mentally ill patients (people with serious psychological disorders that are often compounded by drug addiction), who without Prop 63 programs would be in the streets.  They would be homeless and sicker than ever.  To give you an idea, some people are so sick that they require hours of treatment every single day.  This treatment is mostly paid for by Prop 63, but since mental health treatment services are so deeply in demand with a limited number of therapists (lower salary for public service = less ppl working in public services), therapists often have to work beyond the time that they get compensated for by Prop 63 funds and often end up putting in 'donated' labor anyway. 

Considering that the economic and housing crises this last year are leaving people jobless and homeless - especially in LA at ever expanding rates, stopping the treatment of already really sick people and putting them back on the street makes no sense whatsoever.  Plus, as mentioned in the opposition section above, more homeless people = more people being put in jail, more people having crimes committed against them (homeless people are at high risk of being victims of violent physical or sexual assault), and potentially more people causing crime.  Considering that California prisons are already overburdened and cost upwards of $20,000 - $40,000 per person per year or $100,000 - $200,000 per person per year for juveniles and elderly prisoners (men and women) in need of meds/medical rehabilitiation, WHY would we stop a program that keeps people off of the streets and rehabilitates them?  Why would we put a whole bunch of really sick ppl back in the streets as prime targets to be arrested, feed into the prison cycle, and charge the state of California hundreds of thousands of MORE dollars per year above the trillions we are currently spending on the prison system?

-  Diverting Prop 63 money (based on the points above) will probably cost the state of California WAY MORE money than it will save.

-  Prop 63 monies are also used to train public mental health employees on how to provide culturally competent care to patients from every ethnic, cultural, religious, linguistic background, of both or any gender, of any sexual preference, etc.  I think these trainings and the inclusiveness that they promote makes Cali (at least LA County) a leader in how to provide creative, competent, and caring mental health services.

-  Also, Prop 63 is going to create new, innovative programs if it can continue on without being 'diverted'.  The last phase of Prop 63 programs to be developed are prevention and intervention programs (these are what the planning meetings I attended were for) that will hopefully place mental health professionals in public schools and in general health doctors offices.  The purpose of this would be to identify, diagnose and treat mental illness in children and adults in its beginning stages, or to identify mental illness in people who wouldn't necessarily ever see a doctor beyond their general MD.  (This is important as general healthcare professionals don't necessarily recognize mental illness when they see it, considering that many times people manifest depression or other illness through physical symptoms such as fatigue or shortness of breath.) Similar to a physical illness, if you can identify and treat mental illness in the beginning stages, it is MUCH easier to treat than if caught years later. 

Prop 63 also funds infrastructure building, and investment in techonology to expand services to people (such as through creating televideo connections where mental health professionals can provide remote treatment to patients in cases of clinic short-staffing)

An important note on Prop 63 - the average taxpayer does not pay for it.  1% of the income of anyone earning over $1 million is taxed, which creates a revenue of billions of dollars which goes to create new mental health programs for severely mentally ill patients including housing, shelter, clothing, hours of therapy (per day), medication, etc.  If you earn at minimum $1 million, 1% of your income is $10,000.  If we're talking about millionaires, these are people who own houses with 4 car driveways that own cars that easily cost upwards of $30,000.  Next to an $11 trillion bailout, $1 million may not seem like a lot, but it is.  If you earn $40,000 per year, then a person earning $1 million is earning 25 times what you earn.

What I don't undertstand is if 1% of a tax on millionaires and billionaires will generate billions of dollars and these are wealthy way beyond the average American, why don't we vote on charging another 1% tax on millionaires or even a 2% tax to make up for tax loopholes they get already and to help close our deficit/pay for other programs that are lacking money, instead of sucking the life out of public mental health ESPECIALLY at a time when people are in crisis?  

Why don't we cut funding to our prisons system?  We spend upwards of $9 TRILLION a year on corrections - and this is a number that has rapidly and exponentially expanded over the last few years at the hands of the governator.  

Why don't we work with Obama to push for easier access for the average non-impoverished American to be able to access public health services, which we can pay for and which we are ALREADY paying for through our taxes???  

So.....point of the story is please don't vote yes on 1E.  If the Governator can be creative enough to bankrupt the Great State of California, him and his cronies can figure out creative ways to create money.  Maybe we should raise our voices some and help them out.   

One love...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rick Jacobs, Courage Campaign <>
Date: Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 7:06 PM
Subject: IMPORTANT: Your May 19 election Progressive Voter Guide

Courage Campaign

The Courage Campaign empowers more than 700,000 members to lead the movement for progressive change in California on a variety of issues, including marriage equality. Before each election, the Courage Campaign produces a Progressive Voter Guide as a service to our members:

Dear Friend,

The statewide special election is less than a month away -- on Tuesday, May 19. Are you ready to vote?

You may have already received a vote-by-mail ballot for the May 19 election, but perhaps you haven't made your choices yet. The six initiatives on the ballot are complicated. Progressives are divided on the issues. Therefore, we are giving you as much information as possible so that you can make an informed choice.

That's why the Courage Campaign is providing our May 19 Progressive Voter Guide for the special election ballot. You'll see not only the Courage Campaign's recommendations, but also those of other leading progressive organizations like the California Democratic Party, the California Nurses Association, the California Teachers Association and the League of Women Voters.

Click here to download and print the Courage Campaign's two-page May 2009 Progressive Voter Guide from our web site (or click the image below to download a printable PDF document directly to your computer):

On Thursday, the Courage Campaign asked our members to vote on the following propositions and decide our final recommendations. 

The final Courage Campaign endorsements on the ballot measures, as voted on by our members, are:

  • Proposition 1A -- Spending cap: NO
  • Proposition 1B -- School funding: NO 
  • Proposition 1C -- Lottery borrowing: NO
  • Proposition 1D -- Divert First Five funds: NO
  • Proposition 1E -- Divert mental health funds: NO
  • Proposition 1F -- Legislators' salaries: NO

For explanations of our endorsements as well as the endorsements of eight other California progressive organizations, please click here to download our two-page Voter Guide from our web site (or click on the image above to download our printable PDF document directly):

With many vote-by-mail ballots already in the hands of voters, please help us spread the word to as many progressives as possible in California. You can start today by forwarding this email and Voter Guide to your family and friends.

No matter what the voters decide on May 19, we must be prepared on May 20 to fight for fair and progressive solutions to our budget and economic crisis.We will be contacting you soon to let you know what you can do to fix California's broken government.

Rick Jacobs
Chair, Courage Campaign



The Courage Campaign Issues Committee is part of the Courage Campaign's online organizing network empowering more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots activists to push for progressive change in California. 

Please consider making a contribution to help us push for progressive change:

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