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Court Uphholds Veto of|Calif. Homeless Program

(CN) - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not violate state law when he pulled the funding from the state's Homeless Adults Program, a California appeals court ruled.

Mental Health Association in California and two other advocacy groups sued the governor for his 2007 veto of the $54.85 million budget for the program, which served mentally ill adults who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The plaintiffs, who also sued the state mental health department and the department's director, claimed the veto violated the Mental Health Services Act.

Approved by the California voters in 2004, the act imposed a new tax to fund the expansion of mental health services.

In explaining his decision to eliminate the program, Schwarzenegger wrote, "To the extent counties find this program beneficial and cost-effective, it can be restructured to meet the needs of each county's homeless population using other county funding sources, such as federal funds, realignment funds, or Proposition 63 funds."

A three-justice panel for the San Francisco-based First District Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court that Schwarzenegger still had the right to monitor and adjust the program.

"The reference to 'amounts of allocations' [in the statute] is no indication that the section was intended to require continued baseline funding for every program funded under every line item in the budget directed to the Department, or to the treatment of mental health," Justice Stuart Pollak wrote for the court.

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