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To Fund Mental Health Care, States and Cities Raise Taxes

February 5, 2019


“State Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver spearheaded that city’s campaign. She initially envisioned a proposal that would focus narrowly on stopping the city’s jails from being a de facto public mental health provider. But after talking to more people and traveling around the state, she realized that the city needed a more robust response. “The Denver school district has one of the highest suicide rates in the country,” Herod says. “We don’t have enough funding for therapists in our schools, and our kids are suffering. So while I was thinking this would be mostly about criminal justice reform, once I started listening to the community, I realized it was much bigger than that.”


"Herod says she wanted to keep the proposal limited to the city level, rather than pushing for a statewide ballot measure, in part because she believes an initiative like this should start small and local. People tend to care more about helping “friends and family at the local level,” she says."


"The tax is expected to raise $45 million in the first year. “That is an absolute game-changer,” says Carl Clark, president and CEO of the Mental Health Center of Denver. “Forty-five million dollars is a significant amount of money to create more programs and build more capacity for our existing programs that are working well.”


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