In 2004, voters passed the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) to help counties pay for the treatment of the mentally ill by taxing high-income residents. The proposition has generated billions of dollars to the counties across the state, but much of it has remained unspent. According to the Los Angeles Times, $1.6 billion was being held in reserve in nearly three-quarters of the counties in the state as of June 2017. Brian Sala, deputy director of the Oversight and Accountability Commission, which monitors mental health care programs in the state, told the Los Angeles Times the following,
Counties have a lot of funds, and they sometimes struggle to spend the money as fast as it comes in.
The state auditor, in a February report, put the blame on the California Department of Health Care Services for its poor oversight of the agencies that receive these funds every month. Proposition 63 actually accounts for 25 percent of California’s $8-billion budget for mental health programs. The Los Angeles Times found that some counties held onto funds that should have been returned to the state after three years, which Health Care Services should have been enforcing that requirement of the law. Hopefully county agencies are able to better use the money generated for the mentally ill.