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Proposition 1 results remain too close to call


Sweeping mental health bond measure

A statewide ballot measure that would overhaul California’s mental health care system, primarily through the issuance of nearly $6.4 billion in bonds, remained too close to call by midweek as ballot-counting continued from Tuesday’s election.

Proposition 1 is a two-pronged measure backed heavily by Gov. Gavin Newsom and a host of Southland elected officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and County Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn. Backers of the measure say it will dramatically increase access to treatment beds and supportive housing, but opponents claim it would slash funding for already successful programs.

As vote-counting continued early Wednesday, the tally was a virtual dead heat, with 50.2% voting in favor and 49.8% opposed. The “yes” camp was leading by roughly 14,600 votes, out of nearly 3.8 million ballots tallied.

According to Newsom’s office, the proposition, if approved by a majority of the state’s voters, would create 11,150 behavioral health treatment beds across the state, along with housing and 26,700 outpatient treatment slots. Roughly $1 billion of the bond measure would be earmarked specifically for veterans.

It would do so through two methods, primarily the issuance of $6.38 billion in bonds but also through a re-apportionment of funds generated by the Mental Health Services Act, which was passed by voters 20 years ago and imposed a 1% income tax on people earning more than $1 million per year. Funds from that measure are largely directed to counties for mental health programs, but Proposition 1 would give the state control over much of the funding.

Newsom contends that Proposition 1 would fulfill a vision that began a half-century ago for a comprehensive statewide mental health treatment system that never came to fruition.

“We can make history,” Newsom said earlier this year during a Los Angeles event to begin the campaign in support of the proposition. “We can’t make up for the last 50-60 years, but we can finally fulfill that vision that was set forth.