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Proposition 1 Passes In California; Newsom Declares Victory With Homelessness Measure


Governor Gavin Newsom and politicians in Sacramento may still have a long way to go to conquering California‘s budget deficit, but they now finally have the go-ahead from voters to get $6.4 billion to revamp the state’s busted mental health system and combat homelessness.

Almost two weeks after Golden State voters went to the polls on March 5, the bitter battle of the bipartisan Proposition 1 is over with 50.2% of ballots approving the measure. While not uncommon for votes to take a while to be tallied in California elections, Prop 1 was on the razor’s edge the past two weeks in part to a stranger bedfellows coalition of civil rights groups and the grassroots conservative GOP, and in part to lower than expected voter turnout.

“This is a huge victory for doing things radically different when it comes to tackling homelessness,” the governor said this afternoon on social media not long after the AP called it for Prop 1. “Now it’s time to get to work — repairing the damage caused by decades of broken promises and neglect to those suffering from severe mental illness. Thank you, California.”

Even though the vote won’t receive final certification until April 12, getting over the 50% line puts the measure in the winner’s circle.

“Now, counties and local officials must match the ambition of California voters,” Gov. Newsom added of Prop 1’s victory in a separate statement. “This historic reform will only succeed if we all kick into action immediately — state government and local leaders, together.”

As is often the case in benignly divided California, data shows that LA and the Bay Area (two big centers of the nation-wide homelessness crisis) were strongholds of Prop 1 support, while the likes of the Inland Empire and Orange County were against the measure.

A mix of two bills passed by the legislature last year, the Behavioral Health Services Program and Bond Measure, as it is formally known, was the only statewide measure before Golden State voters this year. In essence, Proposition 1 will allow California to raise over $6.4 billion in bonds for housing for the tens of thousands of people in the state living on the streets. Anticipated to bulk up as it is implemented, Prop 1’s big bucks will also be used to fund at least 10,000 new beds and create facilities for those with mental health and substance abuse issues.

Having put a lot of his political capital into Prop 1, Gov. Newsom keeps his national profile shining going into the general election as one of President Joe Biden‘s top surrogates. To avoid embarrassment if Prop 1 failed and with ongoing budget talks, the governor last week postponed his State of the State speech. Originally set to be delivered today, there is no new date for the SOTS on the books as of yet.

The success of the measure also came on the same day that the two-term governor, state Senate President pro Tempore Mike McGuire, and Speaker of the Assembly Robert Rivas made public their deal for unspecified “solutions” of up to $18 billion to address the state’s ballooning deficit. Due to lower tax collection revenues than projected (of which the blast radius of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes last year certainly played a role) the deficit is estimated to be at $73 billion right now. To bring that down, the Democrat dominated legislature and Newsom are seeking to fine tune the budget with such so-called solutions plus Rainy Day Fund reserves of around $12 billion and more.





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