Steinberg Institute Leaders testify in support of Mental Health Services Act modernization plan

August 24, 2023

Governor Gavin Newsom is proposing an ambitious plan to modernize the landmark 2004 Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), which Steinberg Institute founder Mayor Darrell Steinberg co-authored. 

Moving forward in the California legislature as SB 326, authored by Senator Susan Eggman (Stockton), the plan would require a portion of tax revenues collected through the “new” BHSA to be spent on addressing homelessness. It would also add a new layer of accountability and allow funds to be used for substance use disorder treatment in addition to mental health.

The Steinberg Institute released a report, Honoring the Vision of the MHSA through Transformationthat concluded the modernization plan was an urgent and necessary proposal to address California’s ongoing mental health, substance use and homelessness crisis. The report also found that the plan is in keeping with the original vision of the MHSA. 

To support the proposal, our leaders testified before legislative committees reviewing the bill. On August 16, our founder told the committee that the legislation’s “wrap-around” care requirements are critical to ensuring people receive life-saving behavioral health care.

Our CEO, Karen Larsen, testified before the Joint Assembly Housing and Health on August 22. She told the committee that without proper state oversight and guidance, California has strayed from the MHSA’s original intent of focusing on serious behavioral health conditions and homelessness. 

Following the hearing, the legislation passed the Assembly Health Committee 11-0. Ultimately, the plan will go to California voters in March for approval. 


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