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Mental Health Funding Backed

April 05, 2002
By: Kathryn Handley
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 1110

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's House Budget Committee reduced the proposed cut to the Mental Health Department from 20 percent to three percent.

If this budget is approved, all services provided by the Mental Health Department will be continued.

Mentally ill Missourians can breathe easier -- at least for now -- thanks to Columbia legislator Vicky Riback Wilson, D-Columbia.

The Missouri House has approved a budget reducing proposed cuts in mental health care funding. In a tight budget year, the House Budget Committee found a way to reduce the governor's proposed cuts to the state Health Department and the Mental Health Department by more than two-thirds.

The governor's proposed 30 percent cut in general revenue to the Health Department would be reduced to nine percent, and the original 20 percent cut to the Mental Health Department has been reduced to a three percent cut.

Under the governor's budget plan, those cut funds would have been restored by appropriations from the state's Emergency Reserve Fund. But approval of using that fund requires a two-thirds vote in the legislature which both Democrats and Republicans agree will not happen.

Despite moving that money from the Emergency Reserve Fund to the regular budget, several Democratic members of the Budget Committee said their plan does not deviate much from the governor's proposal.

"Right now I don't have confidence that the fund will be approved," Wilson said Thursday. "But I hope that people will see the importance of these critical services."

A spokesman for the Mental Health Department, Jeanne Henry, said the department was "thrilled" by the Budget Committee's proposal. She said all services the department provides would be continued under the House-passed proposal, although new programs would be unlikely.