Californians Vote to Spend $6.4B on Homelessness Despite Crushing Debt

Over two weeks after Super Tuesday, a race in California has been called regarding a statewide ballot initiative to spend billions of the state’s dollars on the worsening homeless crisis, despite the state government facing enormous debt.

According to Fox News, California’s Proposition 1 was approved by voters statewide with an extremely narrow margin; with 7.2 million votes cast, the measure passed with just 50.2% in favor and 49.80% opposed, a difference of just under 29,000 votes.

Proposition 1 orders county governments to spend money on housing and drug treatment for the homeless population, with the measure allowing the state to raise a $6.4 billion bond in order to fund the program. The state government is currently facing a budget debt of $73 billion.

The proposition was championed by Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.), who celebrated its passing in a statement.

“This is the biggest change in decades in how California tackles homelessness and a victory for doing things radically different,” said Newsom after the result was announced. “Now, counties and local officials must match the ambition of California voters. This historic reform will only succeed if we all kick into action immediately – state government and local leaders, together.”

The $6.38 billion total will go towards building 4,350 new housing units and 6,800 beds for use in mental health and addiction treatment. The law mandates that counties spend at least two-thirds of funds that were raised from a 2004 wealth tax on this particular issue, including mental health services, housing, and programs for the homeless. The wealth tax currently raises between $2 billion and $3 billion on an annual basis.

Governor Newsom has already spent over $22 billion on the homeless crisis in recent years, including a $3.5 billion program to convert motels into homeless shelters. Yet despite the spending, California’s homeless population has increased dramatically, currently standing at roughly 181,000.

The razor-thin margin by which the proposition passed surprised political commentators, as the measure was overwhelmingly backed by Democrats, who currently have a 2-to-1 voter registration advantage in the state. This result suggests that such a sweeping spending measure in the midst of statewide debt, as well as the obsessive focus on helping the homeless rather than supporting law-abiding and taxpaying citizens, has alienated a significant portion of Democratic voters in the nation’s largest state.

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

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