Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Darrell Steinberg defends mental health initiative

Former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg drops the gavel for the last time on his final day leading session on Aug. 30, 2014.
Former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg drops the gavel for the last time on his final day leading session on Aug. 30, 2014. The Sacramento Bee file

No one is saying Proposition 63, the millionaire tax passed by voters in 2004 to fund mental health programs, has been a failure. They just can’t be sure that it’s achieved its aims.

A January report from the Little Hoover Commission slammed the state for its inability to document whether the $13 billion raised so far by the measure had improved residents’ lives. “After 10 years, the state cannot provide basic answers to basic questions,” wrote commission Chairman Pedro Nava.

A state audit in 2013 similarly found inadequate oversight of programs funded by Proposition 63, with “little current assurance” that the money had been used effectively.

But former state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, who helped write the initiative, is certain of its positive effect. “It is making profound and positive change in the mental health system,” he told The Bee in January.

He will release a report, written by his new behavioral health policy institute in conjunction with the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California, demonstrating the “promising results from investing in mental health services,” 2 p.m. at the Steinberg Institute for Advancing Behavioral Health Policy & Leadership on K Street.

VIDEO: As much as Democrats would like to spend it, most of California's growing tax revenue is already earmarked, Dan Walters says.

AP-AY YI YI: With the transition to a computer-based standardized test now complete, California is developing a new assessment system to replace the Academic Performance Index. As it waits to build up three years of results under the new exam, the State Board of Education will vote on whether to suspend the API and related accountability measures for another year during its meeting, 8:30 a.m. at the Department of Education on N Street. California is also in early discussions with the federal government over annual accountability requirements under No Child Left Behind, which they have disagreed on before. The law requires test scores, but the state board is seeking to submit participation rates on the exams instead. Those negotiations will continue in the months ahead.

THIS IS THE SEQUEL: The inquiry into the California Public Utilities Commission’s rules governing ex parte communication continues today with a second hearing by the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, 9:30 a.m. in Room 3191 of the Capitol. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee will also review a January audit that criticized the California judiciary for limiting the amount of money available to the courts with questionable administrative spending, 10 a.m. in Room 4202.

A NEW LIFE: Attorney General Kamala Harris has partnered with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles County Probation Department, local community colleges and private foundations for a new pilot program to reduce recidivism among inmates through education, counseling, housing and employment opportunities. She will announce “Back on Track LA,” 11 a.m. at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic.

MIND THE GAP: Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, sponsors a legislative briefing on the lower college and career achievement of foster youth and how to address this achievement gap, 10 a.m. in Room 444 of the Capitol.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.