Behavioral Health Bill Fails
I’m heartbroken that we weren’t able to pass the Behavioral Health bill I co-sponsored. Last night the Council voted 4-3 in favor of the ordinance, but failed to reach the supermajority required by County Charter. The bill would have authorized a one tenth of one percent sales tax. I’ve written more extensively on the subject here & here. Despite months of work and overwhelming community support, not to mention the obvious need for suffering families, we were unable to reach an agreement.
Had the measure passed, Pierce County would have joined 22 other counties & the City of Tacoma that currently collect the tax. It is estimated that in 2018, the average amount paid by each person in Pierce County would have been about $17 per year, which would have resulted in approximately $11M annually. Not enough to solve all of our problems, but would have made a meaningful impact in the lives of our citizens.
This isn’t over. The need won’t go away. Pierce County will continue to have one of the worst behavioral health systems in the country until the Council takes action. We’ll still have extraordinary financial burdens on our emergency rooms and jail. Our first responders remain the last resort for people in crisis, but without the tools to handle the problem.
I won’t stop fighting until we step up and accept this responsibility.