We at RGF haven’t done a whole lot of commenting on the recent police shootings in Albuquerque. Although we do work on criminal justice policy from a predominantly fiscal perspective, the issues of mental health and police policy are not in our “wheelhouse.” What is in that “wheelhouse” is tax policy and we were asked to comment for a recent KRQE Channel 13 story on Albuquerque city councilor Klarissa Pena’s proposal to raise the local gross receipts tax by 1/8th of a cent to pay for additional mental health services. Unfortunately, due to a separate incident, we were not able to get on camera.
This is the first statement by anyone that I’ve read or heard about inadequate spending being the problem with APD shootings and our community’s efforts to work with the mentally ill. Interestingly, according to the Kaiser Foundation, New Mexico as a state is middle-of-the-pack when it comes to mental health spending per-capita. So, what will the additional money be used for, specifically? What problems are being caused by inadequate funding particularly given the fact that New Mexico’s courts have struck down “Kendra’s Law” which would allow involuntary commitment of the mentally-ill.
In other words, no one knows if more money is a viable solution for our mental health woes. If someone comes up with valid research indicating that such funds are needed, then a discussion will be worth having. Until then, it would appear that the court system, APD, and the law itself need to be the primary focus points. This proposal would spend money for the sake of spending it and “doing something” no matter whether it solves the problem or not.