Children and the mentally disturbed are very similar in that they are both difficult to navigate around on a crowded sidewalk. Perhaps this is why Propositions 1D and 1E have been written, two initiatives which would divert funding from two previous amendments and direct that money into the General Fund.

Back in 1998 Proposition 10 placed a half-buck tax on packs of cigarettes to fund the First 5 program, an umbrella fund for localized children’s health and education programs. Critics argue that the nebulous funding for these programs has no accountability but there are many programs which help lower-class families by providing daycare and health clinics for children which were started with First 5 monies. If you see cracks in the system work on sealing the cracks, not destroying everything.

Possibly more reprehensible is Proposition 1E which would suspend funding approved in 2004 which taxes millionaires an additional 1% for mental health programs. The temptation is that this would be a two-year suspension and that funding would return as originally intended; proponents of this initiative also point out that many of the programs receiving Proposition 63 funds are still in development while established programs are facing cuts. However, there are drop-in centers and other programs which are already working with the funding and opponents are wise to suggest without these safeguards in place the police would begin spending more time dealing with the mentally ill who have been left out in the cold.

I understand that these are desperate times but passing two measures which strip funding from special programs established to protect the most vulnerable is the same as kicking them out of the way to hop in a lifeboat. We’re supposed to carry the people who can’t walk, not toss them aside for a little under $500 million.

Photo from a Time article on mental illness, taken by JoeFox / Alamy

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