May 14, 2015; Monterey County Weekly


Nonprofit mental health providers in Monterey County, California know firsthand the importance of voter-approved funding measures to their causes and clients.

That’s because in 2004, California voters approved a one-percent income tax increase on people earning more than $1 million a year, the Mental Health Services Act, which has resulted in billions of dollars to help counties deliver mental health care.

The Monterey County Weekly reports that the county’s health department will be releasing its next three-year spending plan this month, which will lay out how it wants to allocate $24 million, “almost entirely from state funds, to dozens of local nonprofits and programs next year. That amount is projected to grow to $26.2 million by 2017.”

After a 30-day comment, the plan goes before the Mental Health Commission in June, and on to the county Board of Supervisors for final approval by the end of July. It includes a range of services, from temporary housing to crisis hotlines.

The plan includes funding for the local United Way’s 211 phone service, which gives callers information on services like food stamps, health insurance, and mental health clinics; a facility in Monterey that houses seniors with physical disabilities and mental illness; and funding for an organization that hires staff at apartment buildings for severely mentally ill adults who might otherwise be homeless.

“[The programs] wouldn’t exist without MHSA funding,” one non-profit leader told the Weekly. The appropriations are proof-positive that public policy, politics, and government spending—in this case as a result of a successful ballot measure ten years ago—have a direct impact on community-based nonprofits’ ability to deliver on mission.—Larry Kaplan