News Coverage

Our campaign is active in the news. See the latest coverage of our campaign against Proposition 1 from around the state of California. 

We provide excerpts and links to full stories online.

You can also review our campaign press releases.

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Courthouse News, Feb. 22, 2024, "Ballot initiative would overhaul mental-health funding in California. Not everyone thinks that’s a good thing"

Text referencing opposition:

It’s taking a billion dollars a year out of mental health services,” [Paul Simmons] said in a phone interview. “End of story.”

Insight from Sacramento County:

Ryan Quist, behavioral services director for Sacramento County, said Proposition 1 would require the county to dedicate 30% of its Mental Health Services Act funding to housing. That means the county would need to shift some $27 million to meet the 30% requirement.

Quist emphasized that as a county employee, he can’t campaign either way on the ballot measure. Still, he said, “My community stakeholders are extremely concerned about the passage of Proposition 1.”

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San Diego Union Tribune, Feb. 20, 2024, guest commentary by Sen. Brian Jones (R-San Diego), "Vote no on Proposition 1: This cash grab will harm veterans and worsen the state’s crises"

"As the son of a Vietnam-era veteran and the grandson of a World War II prisoner of war, I am personally offended by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the proponents using the plight of veterans to sell their flawed proposition, and every veteran family in California should be as well."

"Proposition 1 is a nightmare for taxpayers, cities and counties, and people with mental illness. It’s a cash grab for politicians and Wall Street, all while making the homeless and mental health crisis even worse."

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KPCC/LAist radio "Airtalk," "Understanding Proposition 1: A Two-Part Measure To Amend Mental Health Services Act

(link is to stream of full "Airtalk" show - scroll down to the Prop. 1 segment to play this part only)

Debate/discussion including 2 opponents to Prop. 1:

Susan Shelley, vice president of communications at Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and

Paul Simmons, former executive director of the Depression and Bipolar Alliance of California.

Shelley: "This robs the counties of money in four different ways... They have less funding, more responsibilities. This is going to create pressure for tax increases."

"Borrowing $6.38 billion dollars and paying it back, of course when you pay it back it's 10 or 12 billion dollars with interest..."

"The housing must comply with the 'housing first' principles, which means that no one can be denied housing based on the fact that they are actively using drugs. So the voters are being told that this is 'treatment not tents,' but in fact, you are putting buildings with people who are still using drugs and still in the throes of addiction, in residential neighborhoods with a streamlined, ministerial process, and billing the taxpayers for it. I think this is just not well constructed."

Simmons: "From the perspective of those who are actually going to be affected by it, which is the actual mental health consumers...  and the organizations that are currently providing services under the MHSA, there are big issues with essentially converting the mental health system into the 1940s and 50s model of pushing more and more people into involuntary, locked facilities..."

"I think it's really a cynical ploy by the governor to claim that he's solving the homeless crisis. It's not only not going to solve it, it's not even going to help it. It's likely to make it even worse."

"This will remove $1 billion per year... from mental health services each year under the MHSA... We're talking about 60% out of local mental health services... [that are] given to people before they become homeless or have really severe mental health issues or crises."

"This really takes prevention money out, and puts it into the pound of cure. That's always more expensive."

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Spectrum 1 TV news, Feb. 1, 2024, "Is Proposition 1 the next piece in modernizing California’s behavioral health system?"

Text referencing opposition:

Karen Vicari, interim director of public policy at Mental Health America of California, is concerned the bond measure could cut funding for community-based mental health services.

Proposition 1 would direct a portion of funds allocated for counties to the state, which could lead to services being eliminated at the county level. It would also require counties to redirect mental health dollars to housing services.

Vicari is also concerned about the speed at which the changes are happening. She wants more research into where the money that’s been spent by the state to solve the mental health crisis before spending billions more.

“The solution is to go slower, to do the analysis. There was supposed to be a homeless audit that has never been completed. We need to do that,” Vicari said. “We need to find out what’s going wrong. We need to get everyone around the table to design a ballot measure that’s written to succeed.”

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LA Daily News, Jan. 27, 2024, opinion by Jon Coupal, "What you need to know about California's Proposition 1"

"Although the governor touts Prop. 1 as a “transformational” solution to mental health care and homelessness, it is anything but. The $6.38 billion will pay for only 6,800 beds in treatment facilities and fewer than 4,500 units of housing for the homeless, including homeless veterans, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. There are more than 170,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in California.

Here’s where the politics gets interesting. CalVoices, California’s oldest mental health advocacy agency, opposes Prop. 1 because it threatens existing mental health services. It requires the diversion of tax revenue away from county mental health programs and into state programs and housing instead. Counties will have to scramble for funds to continue current programs for mental health.

Overlooked in the debate over whether Prop. 1 will deliver the results it promises is the threshold issue of whether general obligation bond financing is even appropriate. It is not. Proposition 1 violates all the basic principles of sound bond financing, including the constitutional requirement that the money raised would be for a “single work or project.” Even worse is the lack of specificity as to where the money will be spent. Unlike a school bond where voters are given an inkling of how their dollars will be spent, Prop. 1 is contingent on legislative action."

(This article also ran in several other Southern California newspapers. The author is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which is an official opponent of Prop. 1.)

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LAist (formerly KPCC radio), Jan. 23, 2024: "The Debate Around California’s Big Mental Health Bond Measure"

Text referencing opposition:

If Proposition 1 passes, one of the biggest changes would require counties to spend 30% of Mental Health Services Act dollars on housing programs. That could mean less money for community-based organizations and possibly reduced county staffing, according to the California State Association of Counties and other groups.

“It’s going to directly result in service cuts, this huge funding diversion,” said Karen Vicari, interim public policy director for Mental Health America of California.

Opponents of Proposition 1 argue that it would also drastically reduce funding counties have available for preventive services and divert money from peer-support centers, outpatient clinics and mobile crisis teams.

“For years and years and years the mental health system has been underfunded,” Vicari said. “It’s not a solution to move money around.”

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Orange County Register, Editorial, Jan. 19, 2024: "Endorsement: No on Proposition 1, a costly bureaucratic power grab"

Proposition 1 on the March 5 ballot is a costly bureaucratic power grab that robs counties of mental health services funding and saddles taxpayers with $6.38 billion in debt for what amounts to a bloated version of Project Roomkey and L.A.’s Measure HHH..."

"In addition to adding $6.38 billion to the state’s $80 billion bond debt, Proposition 1 permanently raids the funding for mental health services that voters approved in 2004 with Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act..."

"Not only would counties lose a significant portion of the funding for mental health services they are currently providing, they would incur new costs to operate the “places” for treatment that the state chooses to build."

"Vote no on Proposition 1. It’s no solution."

Note: The Register editorial has since appeared in most of the Southern California Newsgroup's 10 other affiliated newspapers: Los Angeles Daily News, Daily Breeze in Torrance, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Pasadena Star-News, The (Riverside) Press-Enterprise, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Whittier Daily News, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, The Sun in San Bernardino and Redlands Facts.

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San Clemente Times, Jan. 18, 2024: "Council Passes Resolution Opposing Mental Health Bond Package"

"Ahead of the March primary election, the San Clemente City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 16, took a stance against an approximately $6.4 billion bond package that would expand the state’s behavioral health treatment system.

Mayor Victor Cabral and Councilmembers Steve Knoblock and Rick Loeffler voted to adopt a resolution opposing the bond package and two-part initiative known as Proposition 1. The resolution cites the state’s erosion of local control and institution of zoning changes that would place substance abuse and addiction treatment facilities in residential neighborhoods, as well as the bond’s “massive hit” to taxpayers, as reasons to oppose the ballot initiative.

After initially stating the council shouldn’t take a position on the matter, Loeffler decided to support the resolution. He said he didn’t have the confidence to believe the money intended for positive uses would reach where it was supposed to go..."

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KCBS TV, Jan. 16, 2024: "Proposition 1: Voters to decide whether to overhaul California's mental health system"

Text referencing opposition:

'What I see is, this will make the homeless crisis worse," countered Paul Simmons. a mental health worker who's part of Californians Against Prop 1, a group dedicated to opposing this measure, which it deems "huge, expensive and destructive."

"It is going to take away services from people who need it," Simmons said. He believes that the current 'Mental Health Services Act' is working and that Prop 1 would disrupt -- or de-fund - current behavioral health services being offered by individual counties.

"I go back to Hippocrates, 'First, do no harm,' " he added. "This is going to do harm. You don't just destroy a system just because it's not working as well as it could be."

Simmons also said that, while Prop 1 will create some more housing, the addition of new behavioral health beds is not the solution.

"A hospital bed is not a home," he said.

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KRCR TV, Jan. 4, 2024: "Voters to decide on Proposition 1 mental health, housing reform"

Text referencing opposition:

Californians Against Proposition 1 said in a press release that the measure would cost taxpayers over $9 billion, citing the LAO.

A director of the organization, Paul Simmons, said Proposition 1 “drastically cuts mental health services at the local level.”

In December 2023, the Public Policy Institute of California reported two in three likely voters support Prop. 1. Californians Against Proposition 1 said they think the poll was vague, adding that the survey “didn't mention the costs of the measure.”

The PPIC additionally reported that 51% of likely voters think it’s a good time for California to supply the bond.

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L.A. Times, Jan. 3, 2024: "Newsom urges support for March ballot measure to reform California’s mental health system"

Text referencing opposition:

Opponents of the proposition argue it would disrupt the mental health services already being administered by counties.

Californians Against Proposition 1 director Paul Simmons said that he believes the Mental Health Services Act is effective as is, and that building more behavioral-health beds is not the answer.

“I believe it’s going to do more harm than good,” Simmons said. “They’re not building housing for the homeless, they’re just locking them up.”

The $1 billion in diverted funds means significantly fewer mental health resources for counties, Simmons said.

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KTTV Fox 11, Jan. 3, 2024: "Prop 1: Newsom, Bass launch campaign for $6.4B mental health bond measure"

Text referencing opposition:

Opponents of the measure, a group known as Californians Against Proposition 1, deride the measure as "huge, expensive and destructive," saying it would cost taxpayers more than $9 billion over the life of the bonds, while ordering the redirection of $30 billion in existing mental health services funds in the first decade, "cutting existing mental health services that are working."

"Prop. 1 breaks promises made by the voters when they first passed the Mental Health Services Act in 2004," according to the opposition group. "The idea then was to create permanent, dedicated funding for long-neglected mental health services, including prevention, early intervention, programs for youth, programs for struggling and under-served populations, including racially and ethnically diverse groups and LGBTQ people. The MHSA is a proven model, offering `anything it takes' to help individuals who need a range of services.

"Now, Prop. 1 would sharply reduce that funding, end its dedication to mental health programs and take a hatchet to dozens of programs across the state that cannot survive without MHSA funding. It orders counties to do more with less."

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Orange County Register, Jan. 2, 2024, Carl DeMaio op-ed: "Proposition 1 will make California's homelessness crisis even worse"

Text with concerns about funding diversion:

At a time when we face a growing mental health crisis with homelessness, Prop 1 actually diverts existing funds from mental health treatment programs so the money can be diverted to government-financed housing projects.

In doing so, Prop 1 raids and diverts funding from the very mental health treatment programs that currently serve homeless people!

That’s why a bipartisan coalition of mental health treatment advocates oppose Prop 1 and warn of devastating cuts to mental health treatment programs if it passes.

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Los Angeles Daily News, Oct. 12, 2023: “Governor Newsom celebrates ‘paradigm shifting’ mental health legislation in LA

(also appears in other publications including OC Register, San Jose Mercury News)

Text referencing opposition:

Not everyone is pleased by the new laws. A coalition of mental health advocates and supporters have declared their opposition to Prop. 1.

The group, Californians Against Proposition 1, fears that diverting MHSA funding to housing will defund existing community mental health services and lead to competition over the remaining money.

“Financial support for a wide array of effective, voluntary, evidence-based, community-based, accessible, service options will be dramatically cut,” the coalition stated. “Also on the chopping block is one of the only funding sources for peer support and culturally responsive mental health services for racial and ethnic minority communities.”

Californians Against Proposition 1 coalition members are also upset by last-minute changes to the bond measure’s language that allow funding to be applied to locked treatment facilities.

“They might have achieved true consensus on this measure if they had not so crassly attacked the funding lifeline that so many programs depend on today or introduced forced treatment into the bill at the last minute,” stated the coalition. “Our community sees, hears and feels this as disrespect, and we fear for our bodily autonomy and freedom.”

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Cal Matters, Oct. 12, 2023: “Newsom signs reform package

Text quoting concerns:

While the legislation was the subject of intense debate by county behavioral health providers, clients and children’s advocates, Thursday’s ceremony was a show of unity. Newsom was backed by city and county officials, the bill authors, labor leaders, as well as families from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Still, Proposition 1 was immediately met with opposition from organizations that represent people with disabilities and clients of county mental health programs who oppose the expansion of involuntary treatment.

Californians Against Prop 1: “Disrespecting the voters and existing programs, Proposition 1 drastically alters, for the worse, how our state government will approach delivery of mental health and addiction recovery services.”

And earlier this week Newsom signed legislation expanding the definition of who can be placed under involuntary treatment.

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Sacramento Bee, Oct. 12, 2023: “Newsom sells voters ‘treatment not tents’ homelessness plan. Critics say it hurts mentally ill

Text referencing opposition:

WHAT DO OPPONENTS SAY?

A group called Californians Against Proposition 1 announced on Thursday it will mount a campaign opposing the ballot measures. The organization describes itself as a “broad, nonpartisan coalition of people, including those who provide and receive local and statewide mental health services.”

Californians Against Proposition 1 says the ballot measures will cut “effective, voluntary, evidence-based, community-based, accessible, service options” in favor of expanding involuntary treatment.

“This is not ‘modernization,’ as supporters claim,” the group said in an emailed statement. “It is disruption and destruction.”

“Disrespecting the voters and existing programs, Proposition 1 drastically alters, for the worse, how our state government will approach delivery of mental health and addiction recovery services,” the coalition added.

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KCRA-TV Sacramento, Oct. 11, 2023

quote from prop 1 opponents on kcra tv

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Los Angeles Times, analysis, by Thomas Curwen, Oct. 12, 2023: “California is reinventing how it deals with mental illness. Now the locals have to make it work

Text referencing opposition:

Opposition has already formed to the ballot measure, arguing that it would lead to cuts in community-based treatment programs and an expansion of involuntary treatment options.

Text quoting concerns:

But lawmakers in the recent legislative session seemed to show little interest in consulting with a broad constituency, according to Deb Roth, a senior legislative analyst for Disability Rights California, and were more intent upon marginalizing critics like her organization for “allowing the mentally ill to die with their rights on.”

“That is insulting and not true,” she said.

Roth cites in particular a last-minute change to AB 531. For months this year, as the bond measure worked its way through the Assembly and Senate, its funding — $6.38 billion — was earmarked for “an array of voluntary, unlocked, community-based treatment and residential care settings.”

But lawmakers in the last week deleted that language, making funding possible for locked psychiatric facilities.

The ballot measure going before voters in March represents a significant shift in how mental illness is paid for and treated in the state and poses a serious challenge to the status quo, said Rod Shaner, former medical director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

“This could invite struggles with powerfully entrenched elements of the community mental health system,” Shaner said.

In reallocating funds in the Mental Health Services Act, Proposition 1 threatens funding for existing outpatient mental health services.