California's Prop 1 could revamp state's mental health system. Here's what to know.

California voters will head to the ballot box in a few weeks to decide the fate of a two-part initiative spearheaded by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom that would overhaul the state's mental health system.

The measure, known as Proposition 1, would provide additional funding for behavioral health treatment facilities and housing to address the state's homelessness crisis. A 2023 University of California study found nearly four in five unhoused Californians reported they experienced a serious mental health condition at some point in their life.

Prop 1 would approve a $6.4 billion bond to build additional facilities for mental health care and substance use disorder as well as individuals who are homeless.

Here's what to know about Proposition 1:

What is Prop 1?

Members of the Resiliency Empowerment Support Team (REST) Letha Croff, left, and Torie Baxter, second from left, talk to a homeless person sleeping under a bridge in Chico, Calif., Feb. 8, 2024. A measure aimed at transforming how California spends money on mental health will go before voters in March as the state continues to grapple an unabated homelessness crisis. The REST Program does daily visits to homeless encampments to get them into treatment or housing. Butte County officials fear the REST program would lose its funding if California voters approve Proposition 1.

Prop 1 is a statewide ballot measure that would address the mental health system and homelessness crisis in California.

The measure reforms the state's 20-year-old Mental Health Services Act, which established a 1% personal income tax for those who make more than $1 million per year. This tax provides funding to county governments for mental health services.

The legislation currently accounts for one-third of funding for county behavioral health services, according to the California Budget and Policy Center.

Prop 1 would amend California's Mental Health Services Act and approve a $6.4 billion bond to fund behavioral health and residential facilities.

The crux of the proposition would change how county governments can use funding from the tax by giving the state more control over how the dollars are spent. It also increases the share of the tax allocated to the state to administer mental health programs.

Currently, 76% of the tax money being funneled to counties is used for mental health treatments, housing, outreach and crisis programs. The remaining 19% is designated for prevention and intervention programs, like school-based mental health counseling. Five percent goes toward innovation.

If the proposition passes, funds would be allocated slightly differently with one third going toward housing and rental assistance for homeless individuals with mental health or addiction problems. An additional 35% would go toward mental health treatments for those same individuals and the remainder would be used for prevention services for youth as well as workforce training and innovation projects.

How would Prop 1 change California's mental health services?

Resiliency Empowerment Support Team (REST) team member Beth Perkins, give a homeless person a hand warmer during a visit to a homeless camp in Chico, Calif., Feb. 8, 2024. A measure aimed at transforming how California spends money on mental health will go before voters in March as the state continues to grapple an unabated homelessness crisis. The REST Program does daily visits to homeless encampments to get them into treatment or housing. Butte County officials fear the REST program would lose its funding if California voters approve Proposition 1.

The $6.4 billion bond in Prop 1 would allow California to add 6,800 mental health and addiction treatment facilities and build 4,350 housing units, half which will be designated for veterans.

This would total an additional 11,000 behavioral health and supporting housing units throughout the state.

It is also estimated that over 26,000 outpatient treatment slots will be created if the proposition passes.

Will it pass?

NFC championship game: California Governor Gavin Newsom watches the San Francisco 49ers play the Detroit Lions at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Jan. 28, 2024.
NFC championship game: California Governor Gavin Newsom watches the San Francisco 49ers play the Detroit Lions at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Jan. 28, 2024.

Newsom has spearheaded the proposal promoting the plan throughout the state since it launched last year. It also has the backing of the state's hospital association, law enforcement, firefighters, California Big City Mayors and the National Alliance on Mental Illness California.

Supporters claim the measure will generate new funding to help those suffering with severe mental health disorders. California cities − like Los Angeles and San Francisco − have been criticized in recent years for not doing enough to combat homelessness.

However, mental health and disability rights advocates and the League of Women Voters in the state oppose the measure. County officials have also raised concerns that the proposition could threaten already-existing mental health programs in their counties.

Those who oppose the measure claim it could also reduce mental health services in minority communities for people of color and LGBTQ communities. Others argue it isn't a solution to homelessness and it cut funds from programs that are already working.

Voters will decide whether the proposition passes on a statewide primary ballot March 5.

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California's Prop 1 may revamp state's mental health system. Here's why