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Proposition 1 Vote Tally Falls to 50–50 Tie as Support Fades

Proposition 1 Vote Tally Falls to 50–50 Tie as Support Fades

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks about mental health crisis before signing off on two major pieces of legislation to transform the state's mental health system and to address the state's worsening homelessness crisis in Los Angeles on Oct. 12, 2023. (Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo)

Rudy BlalockBeige Luciano-Adams

Rudy Blalock & Beige Luciano-Adams

3/13/2024

Updated: 3/13/2024

Maybe the opponents of Proposition 1 spoke too soon.
Californians Against Prop. 1, a ballot initiative that would borrow $6.4 billion to develop 10,000 mental health treatment beds, conceded March 12, and results at 4:25 p.m. seemed to back them up, as Prop. 1 was holding onto its lead.
But the tally at 7 p.m. showed the opposition catching up and results locked in a 50-50 tie with the Yes votes totaling 3,164,593 compared with the No total of 3,160,375.
A grassroots campaign, Californians Against Prop. 1 brought volunteers together who have “lived experience” dealing with mental health issues, people who had benefited from current services for such, and many women and people of color, according to its website.
But with the large financial backing of the two-part ballot measure, plus support from Gov. Gavin Newsom, the fight for a no vote looked as if it would fall slightly short.
“You have to talk to millions of people in California to influence an election. Our grassroots campaign was hard-pressed to compete with $20 million on the ‘yes’ side, a campaign so overconfident and overstuffed with cash that they ran a Super Bowl ad,” they said when they conceded Tuesday afternoon.
Supporters of the proposition raised $26.7 million while those opposed raised just $1,000.
A product of one bill from the Senate and one from the Assembly and approved by the governor last year, the proposition calls for investing in “behavioral health housing” for those with mental health issues, alcoholism, drug addiction, and homelessness, according to an October 2023 press release by Mr. Newsom announcing it.
“We see the signs of our broken system every day—too many Californians suffering from mental health needs or substance use disorders and unable to get support or care they need. … This will prioritize getting people off the streets, out of tents, and into treatment,” he said.
The measure, in part, would redirect funds from the 2004 Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)—a wealth tax also known as Prop. 63—to the state. It also authorizes $6.4 billion in bonds.
The act currently generates around $2 billion to $3 billion annually, with 95 percent going directly to county programs, but under the measure 5 percent of that would go to the state for mental health, drug, and alcohol treatment.
But of concern to some, the measure also requires that counties spend 30 percent of the funds on mandated housing for people with substance abuse disorders, but not mental illness. Previously the funds were for programs for the mentally ill only or those with mental illness and substance abuse.
Some mental health experts and local leaders are concerned Prop. 1 would eliminate existing services that have proven effective.
“It’s being billed as a cure for homelessness, and it really isn’t. It’s limiting the people who will be benefited, and ignoring the other needs,” Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee told The Epoch Times in an interview earlier this month.
He argued it would ruin years of progress in his county.
“I think over time that maybe, in effect, we'll see more people with homelessness than it takes out,” he said.
By diverting around one-third of the money from the Mental Health Services Act to mandated housing, critics argue it will cut into existing mental health 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,” the nonprofit said in the same statement.
The proposition would increase state bond repayment costs by $310 million per year for 30 years, totaling $9.3 billion, according to the ballot measure.
Proponents argue a yes on the measure will expand services that target mental health and addiction, build permanent supportive housing, and help homeless veterans, according to arguments in support written on the ballot.
Ballots will continue to be counted until April 5 and the secretary of state will certify the results on April 12.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

Author

Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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Beige Luciano-Adams

Beige Luciano-Adams

Author

Beige Luciano-Adams is an investigative reporter covering Los Angeles and statewide issues in California. She has covered politics, arts, culture, and social issues for a variety of outlets, including LA Weekly and MediaNews Group publications. Reach her at beige.luciano@epochtimesca.com and follow her on X: https://twitter.com/LucianoBeige

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