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In California, Taxing The Wealthy Means More Money For Mental Health Programs

California is already reaping the rewards of Proposition 63, also known as the Mental Health Services Act, which applies a 1 percent tax on residents that earn more than $1 million a year to fund mental health services that help “[prevent] mental illness from progressing, [reduce] stigma and [improve] treatment” in the state. According to a report by Rand.org, the statewide tax on high-earning individuals has significantly expanded mental health programs particularly in Los Angeles County, California’s most populous county at 10 million residents.

“The evaluation found evidence that the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LAC DMH) is reaching the highly vulnerable population it seeks to reach with its FSP and youth PEI programs. Furthermore, those reached by the programs experience improvements in their mental health and life circumstances,” writes Rand.org in their report.

The act, which passed in 2004, has aided in the expansion of therapy and case management programs to 130,000 young people in Los Angeles County. Most beneficiaries of these tax-supported programs are poor and from minority communities, according to CNN.

While Los Angeles County receives the biggest share of the money generated by the Mental Health Services Act, which makes $2 billion a year, all counties in California greatly benefit from it. California counties have received a total of $16.53 billion.

The act has not been without controversy. In February, a state audit alleged that California has failed in ensuring that all the money provided for these mental health programs is actually being spent. Allegedly, mental health departments in California failed to spend a total of $231 million by the end of 2015-2016 fiscal year.

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