WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Business & Labor Leaders Support Governor Newsom’s Modernization of the Mental Health Services Act

SACRAMENTO – Prominent business leaders and labor leaders are speaking up in support of Governor Newsom’s modernization of the state’s behavioral health services system and transformative effort to build 10,000 new behavioral health beds and units across California. This reform and build effort will help more Californians, of all ages, access mental health and substance use disorders care and support, and better prepares the state to meet the infrastructure and workforce needs for years to come.

These voices build on the support from 50+ mayors and county leaders across California, a diverse coalition of statewide advocacy groups, and children’s groups reacting positively to the language added to the bill package.

Here’s what they are saying…


  • Jennifer Barrera, CalChamber: “California employers are at the front lines of the social crises of homelessness, untreated serious mental illness, and drug abuse, and many struggle daily to stay open and provide a safe and welcoming business environment for their workers and customers. The BHSA initiative, AB 531 and SB 326, is an ambitious response to this crisis and will provide the resources and accountability metrics necessary for a more effective response by service providers.”
  • Rachel Michelin, CA Retailers Association: “The California Retailers Association is proud to support Governor Newsom’s MHSA modernization and bond proposal. Our members operate in every community in the state and know it is long overdue that California modernizes our approach to serving our fellow Californians who are most in need of the mental health care they deserve – especially those with serious mental illnesses and experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Retailers care about our employees, our customers and neighborhoods we operate in and retailers large and small have been impacted by individuals who we know need intervention to get on a better life path. We appreciate the leadership of the Governor in collaboration with the State Legislature on this important issue.” 
  • Stuart Waldman, Valley Industry Commerce Association: “The proposed measures aim to build upon, enhance, and innovate various state programs and initiatives while substantially investing in bolstering our behavioral health workforce. This will provide important services to those struggling with mental health issues and homelessness while delivering a positive economic impact to California and local communities. As a veteran of the United States Army, I commend the Governor and Legislature for addressing the unfortunate reality of having 10,000 Californian veterans who experience homelessness on any given night. With 50% of these veterans grappling with mental health issues like PTSD and 70% burdened with substance use disorder, funding is being set aside for the community to address these challenges and support those who have contributed to their communities through their service.”
  • Jim Wunderman, Bay Area Council: “For too long California has failed to adequately address the dire mental health and substance abuse crisis playing out on our streets, in our parks and other public spaces. We applaud Governor Newsom’s bold plan to get people the help, shelter and housing they desperately need, and provide the accountability to ensure we do it right.”
  • Ahmad Thomas, Silicon Valley Leadership Group: “The scope and complexity of the behavioral and mental health challenges in California demands fresh thinking and innovative solutions. SVLG welcomes Governor Newsom’s proposed reforms to the state’s mental health care system as one of the crucial components for improving access, outcomes and accountability, but also to strengthen the fabric of our communities and improve business competitiveness.”
  • Tony Mirenda, San Jose Chamber of Commerce: “I enthusiastically commend the Governor’s leadership with this form of important legislation. It is a direct aid into our local and growing problem of mental illness and homelessness. It is equally great to see our Governor, County Supervisors, and Mayor all roll up their sleeves and help our region address this critical issue in Silicon Valley. This is the type of cooperative Governance that we should ALL get behind.”
  • Nicholas Adcock, Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce: “Now more than ever, California needs to take bold and comprehensive action to address the convergence of crises in homelessness, behavioral health treatment, and substance use disorders. Riverside County, like most counties in the state, has a significant limitation in psychiatric inpatient beds. While California falls behind this number with one bed per 5,856 residents, Riverside County has a more pronounced shortage at one bed per 12,177 residents. While this issue has persisted for years, it has been greatly exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic…This transformational package focuses on accountability and reform to ensure Californians can access critical behavioral health services and find the type of housing for their needs in the community.”
  • Luis Portillo, San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership: “Our homelessness problems cannot be fully resolved unless we address the issue of mental health and addiction that affects so many. I commend the Governor and our legislative leaders for dedicating the resources necessary to address this issue on the local level. It is through this compassionate approach that we can address the root of the problem and help individuals get the help and resources they need.”
  • Tracy Hernandez, Los Angeles County Business Federation: “The Governor is on the right track by promoting a bond to ensure resources for mental health. California can provide the most comprehensive mental health services in the world, but we ultimately cannot deliver those vital services if there is nowhere for patients to go. BizFed has been an active supporter of various efforts to expand both care and beds, rallying business leaders from diverse sectors and communities across Los Angeles County to ensure our most vulnerable neighbors get the support they need. Let’s work to scale successful models built around behavioral health treatment, supportive housing and compassion.” 
  • Fred Tayco, San Diego Lodging Association: “The proposals represent a thoughtful and compassionate approach to addressing the behavioral health crisis we witness on our streets. The hotel industry supports these reforms and will continue to be a partner in its success.”


  • Matt Lege, SEIU California: California’s behavioral health crisis is a complex and multifaceted problem. And this proposal is an important step to modernizing the system. The whole person approach, robust planning process, accountability, providers and investment in the workforce, are critical to delivering on the care that every Californian is entitled to. For these reasons outlined, SEIU supports this proposal.”
  • Brian Rice, CA Professional Firefighters: “For many Californians experiencing homelessness, firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics are the first and only resource they have when they are in crises. Limited resources and supportive services that are not expansive enough to cover the true breadth of the need that exists throughout the state means that time and again individuals must turn to public safety providers for help. And while California’s firefighters will always answer the call, they too are not equipped to truly solve the issues that they face every day on the streets. More resources are needed for targeted solutions, and a higher priority must be placed on housing as a permanent solution instead of a temporary fix for those who struggle with homelessness.”
  • Daniel Curtin, CA Conference of Carpenters: “The housing and homelessness crisis has exacerbated the issue of providing the necessary services to those with serious mental health illnesses. Modernizing our approach to mental health treatment requires important medical services but also the necessary housing to provide a stable environment for those in need. The acute need for safe living conditions of veterans, at-risk youth, and those driven to homelessness and despair due to social or economic trauma, as well as on-site or near-by medical and mental health services, are essential to successfully treat the associated and complex mental health issues they are suffering.”
  • David Green, SEIU Local 721: “SEIU members support the Administration’s proposed expansion of critical mental health services. There is no such thing as health without mental health, and access to mental health services has been a gaping hole in our healthcare system. This proposal moves us in the right direction. The inclusion of substance abuse disorder treatment is of particular importance, and the investments in our workforce are also essential.”