Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg formally requested a state audit Wednesday of billions in mental health funds raised by the Proposition 63 ballot measure he authored eight years ago.
The Sacramento Democrat's letter to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee came after two Republican assemblymen, Dan Logue of Marysville and Brian Nestande of Palm Desert, made a similar request.
Mark Hedlund, Steinberg's spokesman, said the committee will consider the request before the Legislature adjourns for the year Aug. 31.
Steinberg noted that some programs bankrolled by Proposition 63 have been blasted by critics since their inception.
"Some of that criticism may be valid," he said in a prepared statement. "Some of it may show a lack of understanding of how crucial innovative prevention and early intervention can be, especially in breaking through culltural barriers.
"The public needs and deserves to know the actual outcomes of all these investments," Steinberg added. "A detailed review of performance and outcomes will answer those questions."
The audit sought by Steinberg not only would track Proposition 63 funds raised in recent years, but also look at how the money was spent and how effective results have been, Hedlund said.
Proposition 63 was passed by voters in 2004 to impose a 1 percent income tax on Californians earning $1 million or more per year. Money was to be used for prevention, early intervention, outreach programs, innovative services, building projects and mental health workforce training.
Numerous claims of misspending have been made since Proposition 63's passage.
The Associated Press, for example, recently reported that tens of millions of dollars had been spent on people who do not suffer from mental illness. AP cited instances in which money was spent on yoga and gardening.
Steinberg contends that the vast majority of Proposition 63 money has been well spent. The gardening program cited by AP, he notes, was designed to attract Hmong immigrants who may need mental health care but for cultural reasons would not seek help.