top of page

Susan Shelley: Proposition 1 is an expensive scam that must be rejected on March 5

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who collected unlimited contributions to his campaign to fend off an attempted recall, is collecting again.

This time it’s for “Governor Newsom’s Ballot Measure Committee,” which is currently dedicated to passing Proposition 1 on the March 5 statewide ballot.

The measure is terrible, but the collecting business is going very well.

In January, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria kicked in $1.5 million. In December, contributions of $1 million each came from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the California Hospital Committee on Issues Sponsored by the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals, and the Members’ Voice of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.

Sutter Health donated $1 million in October and another $150,000 in January. The Service Employees International Union Political Education and Action Fund contributed $500,000 in December, and SEIU Local 2015’s PAC added $275,000 more. The California Building Industry Association Issues Committee donated $250,000, and so did the Issues PAC of the California State Council of Laborers.

Blue Shield of California gave $200,000. Elevance Health, together with its affiliate Anthem Blue Cross, donated $125,000.

Uber gave more than $300,000, Doordash threw in $100,000, and Airbnb wrote a check for $50,000.

Five- and six-figure donations came in from associations representing law enforcement officers, dentists, domestic workers, teachers, firefighters, new car dealers, doctors and nurses. Generous donations came in from Dimension Energy, LLC, in Atlanta and the Community Solar Action Fund in Washington, D.C.

Sensing a pattern here?

The government of California directly negotiates contracts that determine the pay and benefits of a lot of people. It also legislates mandates that can make the vendors of certain products and services extraordinarily wealthy, or can put them out of business.

When the governor of California comes collecting, he never goes home empty-handed.

As with the governor’s campaign committee to fight the recall, there is no contribution limit on donations to a ballot measure committee. There’s also no limit on behested payments, a category of giving that Newsom has used to raise huge sums from entities with business before the state.

Newsom asked for and received payments totaling over $4.2 million to fund his 2023 inaugural festivities. The list of donors who made these payments “at the behest” of the governor is remarkably similar to the list of donors giving to the governor’s ballot measure committee in support of Proposition 1.

It seems like this kind of activity would end in handcuffs, but it’s completely legal in California as long as the forms are filled out correctly.

According to its most recent form, Governor Newsom’s Ballot Measure Committee had $14.2 million in cash on hand as of January 20. Expect to see TV commercials and stacks of campaign mail, all paid for by special-interest money, to sell you on Proposition 1.

Don’t fall for it.

Proposition 1 borrows money to pay for more of the same homelessness policy that has shown no success despite billions of dollars of spending. The measure authorizes the state to add $6.38 billion to California’s already $80 billion bond debt, but that money buys only 6,800 treatment beds and “up to” 4,350 housing units. With interest, $6.38 billion could cost $12 billion by the time taxpayers finish paying back the debt.

About $4.4 billion would be spent building unspecified “places” for mental health or addiction treatment. All decisions about what to build and where to build it will be made by the state sometime in the future. It’s a blank check.

Two billion dollars would go into the program that currently gives local governments money to buy and renovate hotels, turning them into housing with optional services on-site. Proposition 1 requires these projects to pay the “prevailing wage” for construction labor, raising costs considerably. The projects also are required to comply with the core principles of Housing First, meaning no one can be required to participate in a sobriety or treatment program as a condition of receiving this housing.

You might not want one of these projects in your neighborhood given that the housing units may be awarded to people who are actively using hard drugs, potentially turning the building and the community into a magnet for dealers and problems.

The proponents of Proposition 1 already thought of that,  and here’s what they did about it: they removed the ability for communities to have any input into the approval or location of these projects. The measure requires streamlined, ministerial approval.

To fool Californians into voting for Proposition 1, the governor has been emphasizing that it will help veterans. In fact, only 2,350 housing units are projected to be built for veterans from this $6.38 billion bond. That’s a lot of money for not much help.

But the worst part of Proposition 1 is its robbery of county mental health services funding.

Under the Mental Health Services Act approved by voters in 2004, 95% of the revenue from a “millionaire’s tax” funds county mental health programs and services, and 5% goes to the state. Proposition 1 doubles the state’s take to 10% and requires the counties to divert 30% of their remaining funds to housing programs. That forfeits federal matching funds for the 30% that is no longer spent on health care.

Counties will also be required to spend their limited funds to operate the new “places” for treatment that the state will build with the Proposition 1 bond money.

We can guess what happens next. If Proposition 1 passes in March, the counties will start putting tax increases on the ballot in November. They’ll tell voters there’s not enough money for urgently needed programs such as suicide prevention.

It’s easy to avoid these problems. Vote no on Proposition 1, and tell a friend.


bottom of page