For the past year I have been participating in a work group regarding Older Adults focusing on the extent to which the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63/MHSA) has resulted in developing a system of care for that population. Recently I was interviewed, mainly in my capacity as a co-author and principal drafter of that law with questions about our expectations, how it is going, and what needs to happen.
Four Bay Area Counties’ Housing Ballot Measures Very Important to Mental Health
However, four bay area housing bond measures may turn out to be the most important issues impacting mental health service funding and housing. They would free up mental health funds that might otherwise have been needed for housing and, even more importantly, act as a catalyst for more similar measures. Any new funding to support people who are homeless will help the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA or Prop 63) in achieving its primary goal of serving everyone with a severe and disabling mental illness – by reducing the pressure to use MHSA funds for housing.
I was fortunate to have two outstanding summer interns from the University of California: Monica Venegas and Deepika Dilip. They produced this report which is now as complete as it is going to get, so it is time to share what they found and provide some explanation.
Since this is not a formal report, but intended only to provide a meaningful snapshot of what information was available, I asked them only to develop information on the 20 largest counties (by population). While this excludes 38 counties it does cover about 95% of the state’s population and behavioral health funding.
County behavioral health revenues continue to rise. Many counties are budgeting for significant spending increases for 2016-17
My summer interns were asked to contact the state’s twenty largest counties (by population) to ascertain behavioral health revenue and spending information for 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17. They started by looking online and then contacted county officials to obtain more information. They reported more success in obtaining this information than had previously been experienced by most mental health stakeholder organizations, which had expressed frustration in the lack of readily available information online. The key to their success seems to have been contacting county budget offices instead of behavioral health departments. Continue reading Behavioral Health Revenues Rise – November Ballot Measures of Interest
- Legislature Passes MHSA Housing Bond and Adjourns for Summer Recess
- Governor signs budget
- 17 measures qualify for November ballot
July 1st came on a Friday which meant the legislature started its summer recess on the earliest possible day (returning on August 1st also the earliest possible day).
One of their last actions before adjourning was to pass the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) housing bond. It required a 2/3 vote, and to secure passage Republicans insisted on a few amendments to require more publishing of county spending reports, someone with an auditing background on the MHSOAC (Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission) and $10 million for transitional housing (which likely was in direct response to letters from CCCBHA members). Continue reading Budget and MHSA Housing Bond Pass – 17 Ballot Initiatives Qualify for November
State Budget Reflects Healthy Economy and Increased Attention to Behavioral Health Issues
Last week the legislature sent the 2016-17 budget to the Governor with a record general fund spending level of $122 billion. Revenues were a bit below what had been projected in January but still enough above the previous year to allow for some program increases as well as an increase in the state “rainy day fund.”
Housing to address homelessness and related increases in SSI/SSP payments were important parts of the budget for the first time in recent memory. Continue reading State Budget Reflects Healthy Economy and Increased Attention to Behavioral Health Issues
After about ten years of implementation some fine tuning is needed for the Mental Health Services Act to better achieve its goals
This Thursday May 26th the Little Hoover Commission will hold its second hearing on the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). At issue is its conclusion that state officials have not implemented the recommendations they made in January 2015.
At the same time legislators are taking unprecedented steps to earmark funds (Senate No Place Like Home budget proposal; AB 2017 McCarty – College Students; AB 2279 – Fiscal Reporting). CCCBHA and I support these efforts and join other stakeholders in recognizing the need for some fine tuning of this act.
MHSA revenues are growing much faster than other state and county revenue sources. Why is this true and what are its implications?
Mike Geiss, the fiscal consultant to the Mental Health Services and Accountability Commission (OAC), and County Behavioral Health Directors (CBHDA) recently provided a report to the OAC documenting MHSA (Mental Health Services Act/Proposition 63) revenues since its enactment in November 2004.
The key finding in this report is that revenues for 2016-17 will be $450 million higher for 2016-17 than for 2015-16 and that revenues for 2015-16 will be about $200 million higher than had been forecast when those state and county budgets were adopted last summer.
We have the percentages for each county and the methodology showing how the distributions were generated, so now everyone can see how much of a revenue increase their county or counties will be receiving – and how their relative shares may change over time under the current formula (which the state can change each year).
His report also documents the growth in MHSA revenues – from $900 million in the first full year of 2005-06 to $2 billion the current year of 2015-16. That reflects an 8% annual growth rate and is significantly higher than any other state revenue source as shown on this chart of historic tax yields.
A Lot More in Housing than Just the Prop 63 $2 Billion Bond Proposal
Housing has centered on the $2 Billion Proposition 63 Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) proposal by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Darrell Steinberg that was presented together with a proposal to have local pilot programs to house other homeless people through new state funds as well as an increase in the SSI/SSP benefit for people who are disabled.
Besides that proposal, the governor’s budget reinforced the need to increase the SSI/SSP benefit and proposed funding to cities, counties and providers to provide housing and services for people coming out of state prison.
Department of Finance provides MHSA estimates for next four years – modest continued growth forecast to bring total to nearly $2 Billion
Last month I reported that two newspaper stories indicated that counties had hundreds of millions of dollars in unspent MHSA funds above their prudent reserve for the inevitable eventual economic downturn.
CBHDA had responded by indicating that counties considered this to be one time funding created by a spike in MHSA revenues which would not be sustained. This suggested that counties believed that MHSA revenues would go down in the next years and so I asked the state department of finance if they could take their multi year estimates of state income tax revenues and do similar estimates for MHSA revenues. Continue reading Department of Finance provides MHSA estimates for next four years