Next Tuesday is the Special Election for Proposition 100. It’s a 3-year, 1 cent sales tax that would benefit education, public safety and health services. According to Section 149 of the budget bill that was passed last session, “If proposition 100 is not approved by the voters at the May 18, 2010 special election, notwithstanding any other law, the following state general fund amounts are reduced from appropriations made to state agencies in fiscal year 2010‑2011 as listed below: Department of health services – $40,000,000.”
In other words, if it doesn’t pass next Tuesday we’ll be facing an additional $40M budget reduction.
For some perspective, on July 1, 2008, the ADHS budget for our non-Medicaid services was approximately $276M. Our non-Medicaid services budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2010 is $143M… which is $127M (or about 47%) less than it was 2 years ago. We have limited options if 100 fails because of the substantial reductions we’ve taken over the last couple of years. One option would be to try to reduce the Medicaid match portion of our budget by $40M by reducing reimbursements to contractors that provide mental health services. However, this would actually represent a $160M reduction because this approach would also eliminate our 3:1 match from the feds. It would also need to be approved by the federal government (CMS). Another alternative would be to eliminate medications for people with severe mental illnesses that don’t qualify for AHCCCS (often because they have some social security income). None of the options that we have is pleasant.
The election will be held on next Tuesday, May 18, but many people are voting using early mail-in ballots. Vote by mail ballots must be received by the county recorder on the 18th or may be dropped off at any polling place in your county before 7 p.m. on Tuesday the 18th. The polls will be open on Tuesday, May 18 from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. This is a Special Election, and your polling place may be different that your usual spot, so you should look up your Polling Place on the AZ Secretary of State’s website before election day.