California’s Little Hoover Commission has just released a report laying out prescriptions for delivering on the promises made to voters with Proposition 63. The 2004 ballot measure was approved by 53 percent of the voters and enacted a permanent 1 percent surtax on high income earners to provide mental health services. The report begins:
In this review, the Commission learned that funding provided by Proposition 63 – now more than $1 billion annually and representing about 25 percent of California’s overall mental health spending – continues to evade effective evaluation due to antiquated state technology and overlapping and sometimes unaccountable bureaucracies.
The report also mentions California’s historical resistance to tax increases at the ballot box:
Rarely do voters directly increase income taxes, however. Since 1990, they have done it only twice. 2 The Commission decided to examine one of those votes, in which a majority of California’s voters targeted a minority of the population – wealthy millionaires – for an income tax hike. A permanent 1 percent surtax on the state’s highest incomes has since steered approximately $13.2 billion primarily to caring for the severely mentally ill.