It’s only $7 billion…

Audit finds state has ineffectively spent funds earmarked for mental health

California has failed to properly track the allocation of more than $7 billion of voter-approved money reserved for mental-health programs, the state auditor’s office reports.

In 2004, voters passed Proposition 63, which levied a 1 percent tax on incomes of more than $1 million in order to fund mental-health programs, according to Last year, an investigative report by The Associated Press found that tens of millions of dollars raised by Prop. 63 have been used for county Innovation programs designed for people who don’t have a mental illness.

The revelations prompted Auditor Elaine Howle’s report, which found that the Department of Mental Health failed to evaluate how counties have spent the money or require reports of programs’ effectiveness, concluding that the state can offer “little assurance that the counties have effectively and appropriately used the almost $7.4 billion.”

A new agency, Health Care Services, now oversees the state’s mental-health funding and maintains it is in the process of implementing Howle’s recommendations for setting up on-site review of counties and generating measurable performance data.