Lawmakers discuss changing how state spends tax money collected for mental health services


SACRAMENTO (KRON) — California lawmakers Monday held a hearing to consider taking a new approach on how the state spends money collected for its mental health services. 

“We have in California, a gift from the people, 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 percent and that money goes toward the state’s mental health services. 

This program generates about $2.4 billion a year.

Sacramento Mayor Steinberg told lawmakers he wants the money to be more focused on homelessness.

“There are 90,000 unsheltered homeless people in California. Not all of them are living with mental illness, but many are,” the mayor said. “If we can refresh this act to make sure more of the money goes toward bringing more under a roof and providing them with the services they need, I think that can be a big part in bringing the majority of them inside.”

Assemblyman Jim Frazier was frustrated after panelists didn’t 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.

Lawmakers will take ideas from Monday and maybe turn them into legislation in 2020. 

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