DENVER — Election night was more than just about candidates and political parties. It was also about issues.
In Denver, voters approved a .25 percent tax increase to generate $45 million for mental health funding annually.
So what happens next?
“This will be the largest mental health funding stream that Denver has ever seen,” State Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver) said. Herod helped run the campaign to get it passed.
Herod says first up will be the creation of a non profit — outside of the Denver budget — to oversee the distribution of the tax revenue. The money is expected to be dispersed through grants to non profits in the city that address addiction, homelessness, and mental health.
“We will have larger grants in the millions of dollars and we will have smaller grants,” Herod said.
As for when the money will be available — that will be up to the discretion of the Board overseeing this new non profit.
The tax won’t begin to be collected until January 1st.
The mayor of Denver, the district attorney, and the city council president will play a role in appointing the members of the board.
“The nonprofit is an independent nonprofit,” Herod added.
“We don’t anticipate funding to be available until the first half of the year.”
As for organizations in Denver — excitement is building.
“$45 million is a game changer,” Dr. Carl Clark with the Mental Health Center of Denver said.
“We have several programs that are successful and they make a difference but aren’t big enough,” Clark said. “1 in 5 people are dealing with mental health problems every single day.”