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Tuolumne Supervisors Pan Governor Newsom’s Proposition 1 Ballot Proposal

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Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors collectively expressed strong opposition to a state overhaul proposed for the Behavioral Health Services Act.

A tax was placed on millionaires by California voters in 2004 with the 2-3 billion dollars it generates annually going to counties to fund mental health programs. The counties have broad guidelines to disperse the money how they see fit.

Governor Gavin Newsom is pushing for approval of Proposition 1, a revamp of the Behavioral Health Services Act, on the March 5 ballot. It comes in response to growing issues surrounding homelessness. A big change would be a requirement for counties to start spending at least 60% of the dollars on housing and programs for homeless people with severe mental illness or substance abuse programs.

It came up during a presentation at this week’s meeting about the Tuolumne County Behavioral Health Continuum of Care, and the services in the community. The supervisors indicated that while there may be some well intentions with Proposition 1, a one-size fits all approach is a bad idea.

District Four Supervisor, Kathleen Haff, stated, “The whole state is lumped into one solution, taking away our local control. It is an abomination. And he (Newsom) needs to understand that this (Proposition 1) is not a panacea.”

District Two Supervisor Ryan Campbell said that many of the programs the money currently funds, like workforce training and services offered by ATCAA, are “crown jewels” in the county and already underfunded.

Regarding the proposed overhaul of behavioral health, especially in rural communities, Campbell said, “It is an issue that requires a scalpel, and they are using a sledgehammer.”

District Three Supervisor Anaiah Kirk also argued against Proposition 1 and indicated that he believes Governor Newsom is setting up to run for President and is looking to show that something is being done to address rampant homelessness in the state.

Tuolumne County Behavioral Health Director Tami Mariscal was asked what specific local programs could be on the chopping block, and she deferred to answer the question at this time, but noted that it would have a significant impact on current behavioral health-related services.

County leaders acknowledged that polling shows that Proposition 1 is likely to pass next month and that it is in the best interest of the community to start planning for potential changes.