By Mark Ackerman

DENVER (CBS4)– State lawmaker Leslie Herod, a Democrat representing Denver, is appealing directly to City of Denver voters to help people with mental health and substance abuse problems.

Standing on the west steps of the state Capitol on Thursday, members of the group Caring4Denver said “we can’t rely on Washington” or Colorado lawmakers to fix this problem.

mental health tax hike frame 338 Caring4Denver Campaign Aims To Fund Mental Health Programs

(credit: CBS)

“We are not doing a good job with that,” Herod said. “That’s why we are proposing a Denver specific measure that is close to home and right here in our neighborhoods.”

Instead of working on the state level, Herod is now focusing her efforts on creating change in the city she represents. Herod is asking Denver voters to pass a ballot measure to create a safety net for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

mental health tax hike frame 0 Caring4Denver Campaign Aims To Fund Mental Health Programs

Rep. Leslie Herod (D) Denver (credit: CBS)

“I think the most tragic part is that people who need help can’t get it,” she said. “We know Denver cares and quite frankly we can do more and it starts right here.”

Here is how the campaign works: Herod hopes to increase the Denver sales tax by 25 cents on a $100 purchase. The tax would raise $45 million each year for the next decade. The money would bolster services for those in need, which would then be distributed by a board of stakeholders, which could include mental health providers, first responders and schools.

money Caring4Denver Campaign Aims To Fund Mental Health Programs

(credit: Thinkstock)

But first, the Caring4Denver campaign needs to collect enough signatures to put the measure before voters on the November ballot. The group claims the proposal has broad support in early polling of Denver residents.

Mark Ackerman is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. Follow him on Twitter @ackermanmark

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