Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) Action Plan
After hearing from hundreds of speakers over the course of more than a year, the Metropolitan King County Council voted on Nov. 13, 2007 to enact a one-tenth of one cent sales tax to fund the strategies and programs outlined in King County's Mental Illness and Drug Dependency Action Plan. The programs are designed to stabilize people suffering from mental illness and chemical dependency, diverting them from jails and emergency rooms by getting them proper treatment.
The primary goal:
Prevent and reduce chronic homelessness and unnecessary involvement in the criminal justice and emergency medical systems and promote recovery for persons with disabling mental illness and chemical dependency by implementing a full continuum of treatment, housing, and case management services.
King County Council Ordinance 15949 identified five policy goals:
- A reduction in the number of mentally ill and chemically dependent people using costly interventions like jail, emergency rooms, and hospitals.
- A reduction in the number of people who recycle through the jail, returning repeatedly as a result of their mental illness or chemical dependency.
- A reduction of the incidence and severity of chemical dependency and mental and emotional disorders in youth and adults.
- Diversion of mentally ill and chemically dependent youth and adults from initial or further justice system involvement.
- Explicit linkage with, and furthering the work of, other council directed efforts including, the Adult and Juvenile Justice Operational Master plans, the Plan to End Homelessness, the Veterans and Human Services Levy Service Improvement Plan and the King County Mental Health Recovery Plan.
Oversight, Implementation and Evaluation Plans
Council Ordinance 15949 also called for development of three separate plans, all of which had to be completed before any MIDD funds could be expended. The timeline for development, review and approval of those plans extended through fall of 2008. Go here for more information on the plans.
Background on development of the MIDD Action Plan
King County experienced several consecutive years of state budget cuts to its mental health programs, resulting in loss of services or extremely tight eligibility criteria for many low-income people in need. Inadequate state funding for substance abuse services over many years limited access to treatment for many needy county residents. With access to treatment services so limited, a high number of individuals arrested, jailed or hospitalized are people with untreated mental health and substance abuse issues.
In 2005, the Washington State Legislature created an option for counties to raise the local sales tax by 0.1 percent to augment state funding for mental health and chemical dependency services and therapeutic courts. More than a dozen counties in Washington have now implemented the sales tax increase to date.
An extensive exploration of the possibility of utilizing the tax option in King County began with passage of Council Motion 12320 (pdf) , which yielded a three-part Mental Illness and Drug Dependency Action Plan completed in June 2007. The council accepted the action plan via Motion 12598 (pdf) in October 2008 and authorized the sales tax levy collection via Council Ordinance 15949 (pdf) approved on Nov. 13, 2007..
For King County, the sales tax increase will yield approximately $30 million in its first year and over $50 million annually through 2016, when the sales tax levy is scheduled to end.