SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California lawmakers held a hearing Monday to consider taking a new approach to how the state spends money collected for its mental health services.
“We have in California a gift from the people, it’s the Mental Health Services Act,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
Californians who make more than a million dollars a year get taxed an additional 1% and that money goes toward the state’s mental health services. The program generates about $2.4 billion a year.
Mayor Steinberg told lawmakers he wants the money to be more focused on homelessness.
“There are 90,000 unsheltered homeless people in California,” Steinberg said. “Not all of them are living with serious mental illness but a lot of people are. And f we can refresh this act to make sure more of the money goes toward bringing people under a roof, I think that can be a big part of actually bringing the majority of people inside.”
Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, said he was frustrated after panelists did not provide lawmakers with specific ideas and dollar amounts.
“Please sense my frustration because that’s a lot of money and we made promises,” Frazier said.
“The concrete ideas are being cooked,” the mayor said. “We have to proceed with great urgency. There are real people suffering out there.”
Lawmakers will take ideas from Monday’s hearing and could turn them into legislation in 2020.
Ashley Zavala filed this report.