Governor Funds MHANYS Top Priority Around a Workforce COLA of 5.4%
This morning Governor Hochul introduced her first budget. It was filled with many positive funding initiatives in mental health. For MHANYS our top budget priority for many years has been the implementation of a COLA for mental health and human services. The Governor fulfilled her commitment to the COLA by providing a 5.4% Human Services COLA. This was an important and positive recognition of MHANYS and the entire behavioral health community. She also addressed many other areas of need to our community. Over the years, I have been engaged in many budget reviews. Rarely have we ever seen one that is as positive around Mental Health as this year’s budget. The Governor has really pushed our agenda forward in several areas. We also know our sector has been underfunded for many year and while this is a positive step, much more needs to be done We are highlighting the initiatives in the document below but please note that this is just a ‘top of the trees’ look and we will provide more in-depth coverage in the coming day.
For the last several years, the COLA has been a top MHANYS budget priority. Most of the last fourteen years have been spent fighting the yearly elimination of the statutory COLA. Over the years, we’ve had some success but not like this year’s COLA. One of the greatest strengths of the Human Service sector was our long time combined messaging around the need for around the need for a COLA. Our various coalitions came together to form the #3for5 campaign. While momentum was gathered, ultimately COVID eliminated our opportunity. However what did happen was increased resolve from all the human service sector including behavioral health to speak with one voice for the need for COLA relief.
We were pleased to see the Governor respond in the budget and put to rest the last fourteen years of either no COLAs, minimal COLAs or bifurcated COLAS. This year’s COLA is larger than all the other fourteen years combined and we are so thankful that Governor Hochul led the charge to make this happen for our entire mental health sector and all of the human service community.
The specific budget language states it is for voluntary operated providers of services for OPWDD, OMH, OASAS, OCFS, OTDA and SOFA and to provide immediate relief to providers. We will get specifics over the coming days.
Staff Retention Bonuses
The Governor has created a fund to provide bonuses for community workers on behalf of OPWDD, OMH and OASAS. There has been $200 million appropriate for these bonus payments. It is unclear in the language if these bonus payments are for the coming year or over five years and also who would qualify to receive this funding. There is a reference to up to a three thousand dollar retention bonus for individuals making less than one hundred thousand dollars a year but we are still unclear when that would be administered. We will continue to gather information on this provision
We were very pleased that the Governor has included thirty five million dollars in the budget for 2022-23 increasing to $60 million in 23-24 for funding for 988. Implementation of a 988 crisis line for mental health and addiction disorders will begin in July of this year. Assurances of hiring quality staff, providing referrals and links to community programs and creating an infrastructure to respond to crisis will be essential. We have lost to many people to deaths of despair during and before COVID. A robust system that responds to coordination between 988, mobile crisis teams and crisis stabilization centers (think urgent care for behavioral health) will got a long way to helping minimize the need for emergency room hospitalizations and law enforcement engagement.
We are very appreciative of the Governor support for this funding and look forward to providing a future excise tax for phones to help continue this funding long term much as we have done in funding 911.
Joseph Dwyer Veterans Funding Program
The Dwyer veterans peer to peer program has long been a priority of our members. We have several MHAs across New York State that run Dwyer programs. This has long been funded through the Legislatures and we have advocated over the years that this funding be added to the Executive in the hope that the Legislature will add funding to this essential program. We are pleased that Governor Hochul has proposed adding 7.7 million dollars to expand the Dwyer program.
We have to continue to do more for veterans mental health and Dwyer is an important recognition.
Commitment to Housing
The Governor’s Budget references $65 million for 2023 and $39 million in 2024 for existing Community Based Residential Programs. We are still unclear of the details and will get more information in the coming days but there seems to be a very positive consensus around this funding. The Governor has also extended the property pass through
$400 Million in Funding for OASAS
The Governor has proposed the addition of over $400 million for OASAS programs including expansion of mobile teams, opioid stewardship programs and invest in harm reduction services
Children’s Mental Health Services
The Governor has proposed the continuation of children’s mental health programs to integrate behavioral health services into pediatric primary care as well as the addition of $7.5 million for the State’s RTF programs.
Reinvesting Medicaid Managed Care Recoupment from underspending of Behavioral Health Services
The State is reinvesting $111 million dollars for OMH and OASAS to fund rate increases for community mental health and addiction services.
Suicide Prevention Efforts
The Governor has proposed a ten million expansion of the Home Based Crisis Intervention Program and establishment of a mental wellness community
Safe Options Support Teams
The Governor has proposed twenty new teams of mental health professional to provide evidence based practices to connect homeless individual with housing
School Based Mental Health
The Governor has proposed adding $100 million over two years for a Recovery from COVID School Program for school districts that have highest needs to address students dealing with loss including support of mental health
programs, expansion of school based mental health services and other evidenced based mental health supports.
Non Profit Infrastructure Capital Investment Fund
The Governor has proposed adding $50 million to the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Funds