Gov. Gavin Newsom has collected over $14.2 million for his major mental health project


Gov. Gavin Newsom has collected over $14.2 million for his major mental health project, which voters will see on the March 5 primary ballot. This amount far surpasses what those against the initiative have raised.

Newsom is getting support from his usual supporters in health care, labor unions, and tribal groups to back Proposition 1. This proposition plans to use $6.4 billion from bonds to build housing and treatment centers and to reallocate funds gathered from a tax on high-income individuals for mental health services.

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On the other side, the group opposing Proposition 1, called Californians Against Proposition 1, has only managed to raise $1,000 as per campaign finance documents. The opposition mainly consists of small mental health service providers and people currently using the mental health system who worry about losing resources if the proposition is approved.

For these opponents, the battle feels like a struggle to protect local services, such as emergency help teams and peer support.

“We are generally the consumer,” Simmons said. “A lot of us are white collar professionals, a lot of us are on the verge of homelessness. We’re a broad range, but we’re not the people that are going to give $20,000 or a million dollars.”

However, the strong “Yes On 1” campaign, led by Newsom, argues that the opposition is just trying to maintain a failing system that doesn’t adequately serve those in dire need.

“Prop. 1 has a broad and diverse coalition…because it will finally fix our broken mental health care system and move people permanently off the streets, out of tents and into treatment,” the Yes On 1 campaign told CalMatters in a statement. “That’s why first responders, mental health professionals, doctors, nurses, veteran groups and more support the measure, unlike the opposition which is funded by extremists who want to maintain the status quo.”

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Newsom and his allies believe that Proposition 1 could be the answer to California’s ongoing opioid and homelessness issues. They predict that the bond will finance the construction of 4,350 housing units, half of which will be reserved for veterans, and provide 6,800 spots for mental health and addiction disorder treatment.

Experts have found that California is short by about 8,000 in-patient adult treatment beds. The state also has over 171,000 people living without homes, with veterans making up 6% of this group.

Throughout his time in office, Newsom has been a strong advocate for improving mental health care, investing a total of $28 billion in the sector, more than any other governor in recent memory.

Senator Susan Eggman, a Democrat from Stockton and a former social worker, helped draft the legislation behind Prop. 1. She believes that this measure will secure the necessary funds and infrastructure to finish transforming California’s mental health services.

“We have tried to patch all of those holes, recreated the system, and this is the final piece,” Eggman said during a January campaign event. “Californians really want to do something about the crisis they see every day on their streets and be able to feel proud about where they live and how we treat the least of us.”

Several of California’s top health care organizations have financially backed Newsom’s proposition. Sutter Health contributed $1.15 million, Kaiser Permanente donated $1 million, and the California Hospital Association, which represents statewide hospitals, also added $1 million to the campaign.

Carmela Coyle, head of the California Hospital Association, highlighted the current strain on emergency departments, which often serve as the only immediate option for those experiencing a mental health crisis. Patients sometimes wait for days or weeks in these departments for a treatment bed to become available.

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“Proposition 1 will provide the resources necessary to build a better system for the millions of Californians with behavioral health needs,” Coyle said.

Prop. 1 follows several significant reforms to the state’s mental health system. These reforms include the introduction of Newsom’s CARE Court system for individuals with severe mental illnesses and changes in conservatorship laws, which are likely to lead to more involuntary treatment placements. The CARE Court system allows family members, health professionals, and law enforcement to request a court to mandate treatment for those with untreated severe mental illnesses.

Many of the largest donations come from groups that have supported Newsom for a long time. The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria gave the biggest donation of $1.5 million. This tribe, which runs the Graton Casino in southern Sonoma County, has emerged as one of the top donors in this election cycle for any state race. They’ve supported Newsom generously in the past, including a $750,000 donation to help him beat the 2021 recall effort.

The State Building and Construction Trades Council also donated a million dollars. Chris Hannan, the council’s leader, believes this investment is beneficial. He explained that the union’s members have the right skills to help build the needed mental health facilities and housing, indicating that the proposition could create jobs for union workers.

Another key supporter who donated a million dollars is the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, a group that regularly backs Newsom. Glen Stailey, the head of the union, pointed out the direct impact of mental health system failures on correctional officers. He stated that their donation reflects a deep commitment to tackling the mental health crisis.

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This union, representing 26,000 workers, has supported Newsom’s campaigns for the past decade. They recently secured a contract agreement that includes pay raises and bonuses, expected to cost the state around $1 billion over three years.

Monica Stanly
Monica Stanly
Monica is a key member of the US News Hub news desk, where she coordinates our daily news coverage. With a knack for spotting emerging stories and a quick decision-making ability, Monica ensures that our outlet stays ahead of the curve. Her role is crucial in maintaining the flow of news and keeping our readers informed with timely and relevant content.

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