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Friday, April 12, 2024

Davis League of Women Voters makes the case for voting ‘No’ on Proposition 1

The league held a forum encouraging residents to vote against the popular proposition

 

By CHRIS PONCE — city@theaggie.org

 

The League of Women Voters Davis Area (LWVDA) has been hosting a series of forums to help educate voters on what will be on the ballot in the upcoming March 5 election. On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the LWVDA hosted a forum to educate voters about ballot propositions and encourage them to vote no on Proposition 1. 

Proposition 1 hopes to authorize $6.38 billion in bonds to build treatment facilities for those struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse. The proposition restructures the 2004 Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) to give the state more control over how counties spend their MHSA funds. Specifically, Proposition 1 will require counties to spend more of their existing funds on housing and support services; counties are not currently required to spend a specific amount of their MHSA funds on said services. 

The LWVDA believes this change would take away counties’ liberty to address local mental health issues directly by allocating funds at their discretion — especially since the proposition will not change the current tax rate that funds the MHSA. 

Clare Cortright, policy director of Cal Voices, was a guest speaker at the forum invited to explain why Proposition 1 will hurt counties throughout California. Cortright said the proposition is a “bad piece of policy” and shared how her struggles with mental health have been positively affected by the MHSA. 

“For me, what saved my life was the MHSA,” Cortright shared. “[The community] passed this as a voter grassroots initiative; this was not passed originally through the legislature. This was the entire community of impacted people coming together.” 

Michelle Famula, president and health committee chair with the LWVDA, shared PowerPoint slides given to her by Yolo County Mental Health Director Karleen Jakowski. The slides explained how Proposition 1 would affect the services currently funded by Yolo County. 

“Probably more importantly, […] [it] has to do with the mandated distribution of those funds and reduction of flexibility [in] how counties can independently make decisions about where to put those funds,” Famula said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Teachers Union and The San Francisco Chronicle’s Editorial Board have all endorsed Proposition 1. On top of his endorsement, Newsom has helped raise millions of dollars for the Proposition 1 campaign.

Stacie Hiramoto, director of the Racial and Ethnic Mental Health Disparities Coalition (REMHDCO), was the second guest speaker at the forum. Hiramoto believes that the majority of the mental health community doesn’t support the proposition.

“I feel confident in telling you that the majority of the mental health community opposes this measure,” Hiramoto said. According to her, in many instances, these members are afraid to speak up due to “big guns” in support of the measure. 

Hiramoto said that REMHDCO can’t support the proposition because of how the state legislature passed it. 

“We are opposed because of the manner in which [Proposition 1] was developed and passed through the legislature,” Hiramoto said. “[…] This bill was jammed through, it did not have adequate public hearings; the administration was not listening to us.”

Hiramoto talked about how the MHSA currently helps serve people of color and the LGBTQIA+ community.

“I feel very confident to tell you that the majority of the LGBTQ community is also opposed to this proposition,” Hiramoto said. “The most promising aspect of the original act was that the original act had a funding category that was ideal for programs that reduced disparities and served underserved communities.”

Judy Higgerson, voter service and voter registration chair for the LWVDA, believes that forums like this help “bring to life” the issues on the ballot. Despite this campaign being a long shot, she hopes that the forum can help educate people about the proposition.

“This is the type of format [that], if we could get to other people, even if it’s just to see the website and to view the recording, it will help people think more about what this is,” Higgerson said. “Everybody says, ‘It’s going to pass, it’s going to pass, it’s going to pass’ — well, we kind of knew that from the get-go. But I appreciate the fact that it’s not over. It’s still got a ways to go, but it’s not over.”

 

For more information about upcoming elections and to register to vote, visit https://www.yoloelections.org/

Written by: Chris Ponce — city@theaggie.org

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