Update on the Governor’s Proposal to Modernize the State’s Behavioral Health System
August 25, 2023
Earlier this week on August 22, the Assembly held a joint informational hearing of the Assembly Health and Housing and Community Development Committees to review and discuss the Governor’s proposal to modernize the state’s behavioral health system. While there was broad agreement that reforms are needed, numerous members of the committees expressed concern regarding the lack of additional ongoing, sustainable funding to support the proposed reforms and asked questions about the potential impacts to programs and services in their communities.
The informational hearing consisted of five panels, including two panels with county representation, as well as a presentation by the Administration and comments by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, the California Health Care Foundation, and a broad panel of stakeholders. Materials from the hearing are available here.
The county perspective on the housing components of the proposal were presented by Ky Ly, Deputy County Executive for Santa Clara County, and Chevon Kothari, Deputy County Executive for Social Services in Sacramento County. Phebe Bell, Behavioral Health Director for Nevada County, spoke to the potential county impacts of the proposed changes to the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), and provided a thoughtful and visually impactful presentation on how the proposed changes would impact small, medium, and large counties. Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend, who also serves as Chair of CSAC’s Health and Human Services Policy Committee, rounded out the panel to emphasize the proposal’s impact on counties as currently drafted will significantly reduce funding for core services and impose new unfunded mandates on counties, as outlined in the CSAC/county coalition letter.
The informational hearing was immediately followed by the policy bill hearing on SB 326 (Eggman), where the Assembly Health Committee approved the measure on a vote of 11-0, with four members not voting (Dixon, Flora, V. Fong, and Villapudua). Additional amendments to the bill came into print late on Wednesday evening, and we anticipate additional amendments to be considered for SB 326 by the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development, where the bill is scheduled to be heard on Monday, August 28.
AB 531 (Irwin), the $4.68 billion bond measure to finance the construction of community mental health facilities, represents the other piece of the Governor’s two-bill legislative package. CSAC, jointly with UCC and RCRC, has taken a position of ‘support in concept’ on the measure as currently drafted. AB 531 is set for hearing in Senate Appropriations on Monday, August 28.
CSAC alongside our county partners continue to engage with the Administration and Legislature on behalf of counties regarding potential revisions to the proposal to address issues of outstanding concern.