Info Alert

INFO ALERT: What business is saying about Newsom’s mental health plan

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Expanding housing is core to improving livability for Californians. Expanding supportive housing for Californians with the greatest need is essential to building stronger communities for all. That's why I spoke up to support Governor Gavin Newsom's approach to modernizing California's behavioral health system. His plan is driven by new focus and funding for supportive facilities and mental health beds.

Think about it this way: California cannot deliver comprehensive behavioral health services if there is nowhere for patients to go.

  • California's Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) was passed in 2004. It enacted a 1% tax on personal income above $1 million. The money goes directly to counties for behavioral health services for people with serious mental illness.

  • Newsom is backing two measures to modernize the MHSA and redirect funding for mental health beds. Both measures would appear on the March ballot.

  • SB 326 (Eggman) sets aside 30% of the MHSA tax (about $1 billion annually) for supportive facilities.

  • AB 531 (Irwin) creates a bond to generate at least $6.38 billion in one-time funding for 10,000 mental health beds. It also streamlines environmental permitting for these projects.

  • This effort comes on the heels of Newsom's CARE Court framework, which was supported by BizFed. It fills gaps in the state's behavioral health system and gets Californians with severe mental illness the compassionate care they need.


Six BizFed leaders were quoted in a briefing from the governor's office about broad-based support for MHSA modernization. Click the link below to share our LinkedIn post amplifying statements from Jennifer Barrera, Rachel Michelin, Stuart Waldman, Jim Wunderman, Luis Portillo, and yours truly. We join a diverse chorus of supportive voices spanning business, labor, local government, and various advocacy groups. 

  • Jennifer Barrera, California Chamber: “California employers are at the front lines of the social crises of homelessness, untreated serious mental illness, and drug abuse, and many struggle daily to stay open and provide a safe and welcoming business environment for their workers and customers. The BHSA initiative, AB 531 and SB 326, is an ambitious response to this crisis and will provide the resources and accountability metrics necessary for a more effective response by service providers.”

  • Rachel Michelin, California Retailers Association: “The California Retailers Association is proud to support Governor Newsom’s MHSA modernization and bond proposal. Our members operate in every community in the state and know it is long overdue that California modernizes our approach to serving our fellow Californians who are most in need of the mental health care they deserve – especially those with serious mental illnesses and experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Retailers care about our employees, our customers and neighborhoods we operate in and retailers large and small have been impacted by individuals who we know need intervention to get on a better life path. We appreciate the leadership of the governor in collaboration with the state Legislature on this important issue.”

  • Stuart Waldman, Valley Industry & Commerce Association: “The proposed measures aim to build upon, enhance, and innovate various state programs and initiatives while substantially investing in bolstering our behavioral health workforce. This will provide important services to those struggling with mental health issues and homelessness while delivering a positive economic impact to California and local communities. As a veteran of the United States Army, I commend the governor and Legislature for addressing the unfortunate reality of having 10,000 Californian veterans who experience homelessness on any given night. With 50% of these veterans grappling with mental health issues like PTSD and 70% burdened with substance use disorder, funding is being set aside for the community to address these challenges and support those who have contributed to their communities through their service.”

  • Jim Wunderman, Bay Area Council: “For too long California has failed to adequately address the dire mental health and substance abuse crisis playing out on our streets, in our parks and other public spaces. We applaud Governor Newsom’s bold plan to get people the help, shelter and housing they desperately need, and provide the accountability to ensure we do it right.”

  • Luis Portillo, San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership: “Our homelessness problems cannot be fully resolved unless we address the issue of mental health and addiction that affects so many. I commend the governor and our legislative leaders for dedicating the resources necessary to address this issue on the local level. It is through this compassionate approach that we can address the root of the problem and help individuals get the help and resources they need.”

  • Tracy Hernandez, Los Angeles County Business Federation: “The governor is on the right track by promoting a bond to ensure resources for mental health. California can provide the most comprehensive mental health services in the world, but we ultimately cannot deliver those vital services if there is nowhere for patients to go. BizFed has been an active supporter of various efforts to expand both care and beds, rallying business leaders from diverse sectors and communities across Los Angeles County to ensure our most vulnerable neighbors get the support they need. Let’s work to scale successful models built around behavioral health treatment, supportive housing and compassion.”


<img style="height: auto;" 4Hernandez
BizFed Founding CEO