The article “State pension fund payment slashed” on Page 5 of the May 19 Lodi News-Sentinel did not state how much of the CalPERS 5 percent $170 million reduction, from $3.7 billion to $3.5 billion in annual taxpayer contributions, was achieved through union negotiations and how much from market gains.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness Advocate magazine’s spring 2011 publication revealed that California had the highest dollar amount in mental health budget cuts in the nation at $587.4 million, above No. 2 — New York — at $132 million, and Illinois — No. 3 — at $113.7 million, and this after several consecutive years of substantial mental health cuts. Medi-Cal had previously removed dental and optical benefits and requires a pharmacy co-pay from folks who usually live on less than $700 per month, as most diagnoses of serious mental illness occur between the ages of 18 to 25.
Gov. Jerry Brown has made deep cuts to mandated disability programs to force people to vote for a 5-year extension of temporary taxes. What a despicable game he plays! Many small businesses have been and are in jeopardy, and more are leaving California. Continuing taxes on top of inflationary price increases will leave less disposable income, without which businesses cannot flourish and the economy cannot recover.
Please join us in contacting your state representatives, Assemblywoman Alyson Huber and State Sen. Tom Berryhill, to make sure that there are sufficient pension reforms to reinstate the $587.4 million mental health budget cut, and to provide Medi-Cal minimal dental and optical benefits for the disabled so they can retain enough teeth to eat a proper diet and can get glasses to see when their eyes are failing.
Your action will be most appropriate as the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors will proclaim “May is Mental Health Month” at today’s meeting, and, at the same time, you will also provide the necessary support to the most vulnerable in our society.
Gertie and Tasso Kandris
San Joaquin County Mental Health Board Members
Family Members of National Alliance on Mental Illness