Newsom to convert San Quentin prison to mental health rehab center
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Gov. Gavin Newsom visited San Diego today to announce a “big idea, a big deal” ballot measure to address homelessness, mental health and substance addiction in California.
Newsom made the proposal during one of his final “state of the state” tour of cities across California at Alvarado Hospital, adjacent to San Diego State University, with several state and local officials.
The governor said “we have to address and come to grips” with providing permanent housing for the homeless, mental health treatment and drug addiction.
Newsom proposed a statewide measure that would go before voters in November 2024 to “modernize how California treats mental illness, substance use disorder and homelessness.”
Part of the measure would be paid for with general obligation bonds for building new community mental health facilities in California. More than 10,000 Californians with mental illness and substance abuse disorders would be served, Newsom said.
The ballot measure would also amend the state’s Mental Health Act, passed by voters about 20 years ago to fund programs for residents with serious mental health issues.
That act levies a 1% tax on incomes more than $1 million each year to help pay for California’s mental health system. Newsom said he wants to add $1 billion a year for housing those with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.
The ballot measure would also assist veterans.
“Nobody does it better than San Diego,” the governor added. “We own this moment,” he added. “We’re going to win this thing in November 2024.”
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, called Newsom’s proposal “a bold idea. We’re at the beginning of the next stage of behavioral health reform.”
Also on hand to endorse the governor’s plan were state Sen. Susan Eggman, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Assemblyman Christopher Ward, state Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who co-authored the Mental Health Services Act in 2004.
The measure would need to be approved by the Legislature and California voters.
The announcement came one day after Newsom stopped in Downey to announce a partnership with Civica RX to provide low-cost insulin to Californians, and also to announce that California will manufacture its own lower-cost Narcan — the drug that reverses the effect of an opioid overdose.