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I just saw this story on Raw.

California homeless program is cut
By Scott Gold, Lee Romney and Evan Halper, LAT
August 25, 2007

Schwarzenegger kills a $55-million initiative that helps the mentally ill, then signs the budget. Counties and cities can fund it, an aide says.

SACRAMENTO -- Making good on a promise to trim the state budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated a $55-million program Friday that advocates say has helped thousands of mentally ill homeless people break the costly cycle of hospitalization, jails and street life.

Sad, but when you're running a deficit you have to make hard choices, right?

Wrong.

The budget signed also included:

legislators managed to preserve a tax break for some purchasers of yachts, planes and recreational vehicles -- a measure that could cost the state as much as $45 million.

"A $45-million tax break for yacht owners stays in the budget," Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said. "And a nationally recognized, incredibly effective program to end homelessness for those living with mental illness gets thrown under the bus." [It's] "unconscionable."

The program was by no means experimental and the results were not only starkly and clearly positive but the program by definition pays for itself.

It has served 13,000 people since November 1999. There are about 4,700 participants today. Among those enrolled as of January, there were 81% fewer days of incarceration, 65% fewer days of psychiatric hospitalization and 76% fewer days of homelessness compared with their pre-enrollment days.

Rusty Selix, executive director of the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies -- like Steinberg, a Proposition 63 coauthor -- said the cost of incarceration can be six times higher than the cost of enrolling someone in the mental health program.

I think it's outrageous when we allow government to cut money from programs like this serving our common good and give our tax dollars to the rich in incentive tax breaks in the same budget.

Schwarzenegger praised the program three years ago for creating "significant savings at the local level."

So I guess the locals have to pay all those savings back now or kick everyone off the program. 4,700 people, potentially, will get kicked off this program that is probably working well for them. It's been eight years, imagine what they've learned over the course of that span to make their program sharper and better. All that expertise is gone except in richer towns that have the money to spend on their homeless. If they have homeless. That's right, they run them out of town first before they build a marina for the millionaires.  

And the head Republican in the Senate?

Several lawmakers at the center of the budget dispute did not return phone calls or could not be reached. They included Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman of Irvine -- a yacht owner who pushed to ease the tax burden on owners of yachts, planes and RVs.

Have a great weekend on your boat Dick.




UPDATE: some excellent comments and discussion from knowledgeable kossacks has appeared in this thread. Let me summarize.

  1. The program was initially funded through a proposition. CA is very different from many states in how the laws are written so since it was a prop this funding could be restored in a lawsuit. I don't know the full details, but that is mentioned in the article as well. So there may be a happy ending here after all for the 4700 people on this program.
  2. The funding, 700 million in all and 55 million for this program, was cut by Line Item Veto.
  3. Senate Republicans blocked passage of the budget, a two month battle out there, because budgets require super majorities and this was not a "filibuster" per se, but it was akin to one.
  4. Only after Republicans made the LIV deal with Arnold did they let the budget go through the Senate.
  5. Posters have asked if the Democrats were complicit in these cuts. There is no mention of a deal with Democrats in Sacramento to cut these programs, but if anyone has a source on that please post the link.

And this comment was very illuminating from a non-Californian's perspective:

here's the sick thing

there already WAS a proposition to fund homeless services known as Prop. 63, funded with a tax on millionaires.  It passed easily, but it was designed to provide funding on top of AB 2034.  One of the reasons Arnold's staff gave for these cuts was that Prop. 63 funding would be there so there wouldn't be a dropoff.  Which is bullshit, it was supposed to be for additional services.  So now a supplemental funding stream becomes the sole funding stream.  This happens A LOT with the budget - anything mandated by the voters becomes one less thing the state government thinks they have to fund.  Which essentially nullifies the ballot measure in the first place.

by dday on Sun Aug 26, 2007 at 01:48:44 AM EDT



About ONE-THIRD of the adult male homeless population has served in the armed forces.

Dick can be reached at (916) 651-4033 bright and early Monday morning. I hope he's well rested and didn't hit any rough waters this weekend.


Originally posted to mbair on Sat Aug 25, 2007 at 09:55 PM PDT.

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