Funding Under 2004’s Proposition 63 Cannot Be Used For Mental Health Courts, Lockyer Opines
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Mental health services funding authorized by Proposition 63, a 2004 ballot measure, cannot be used to staff a mental health court, Attorney General Bill Lockyer said yesterday.
The judges, commissioners, court clerks, prosecutors and deputy public defenders working in mental health courts do not provide “mental health services” and thus cannot be paid with Proposition 63 moneys, the attorney general wrote in a formal opinion requested by Monterey County officials.
Proposition 63 imposed a one percent income tax surcharge on taxpayers with incomes of more than $1 million and requires that the money be used “to expand mental health services.”
While the measure does not specifically mention mental health courts, Lockyer wrote, traditional rules of statutory construction suggest that the authors did not intend to permit the funds to be used for that purpose.
Proposition 63 says that the funds raised by the surcharge “shall only be used to pay for the programs authorized in” the initiative and “may not be used to pay for any other programs.”
The ballot arguments for the measure, Lockyer noted, pointed out that many mentally ill people end up in jail or prison and urged that the initiative be approved in order to “provide care before people end up on the streets, or behind bars.”
Proposition 63 also provides that funding under the measure “shall only cover the portions of those costs of services that cannot be paid for with other funds including other . . . local, state and federal funds,” which would suggest that agencies that are already funded, such as the courts and the district attorney and public defender offices, cannot be recipients of Proposition 63 funds, Lockyer suggested.
The opinion, No. 05-1007, was prepared for Lockyer by Deputy Attorney General Gregory Gonot.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company