The Assembly and Senate have both introduced their one house bills. The
objective at the end of the day is for the Legislature to reconcile their
proposals within the framework of the Governor’s proposed budget and have
everything in place by April 1. This year it may possibly happen even
earlier than April 1 given that the timeframe is around the Easter and
Passover holidays.

While both houses have some initiatives that won’t make the final budget,
it is a positive recognition when some things you advocate for make it to
at least the one house bills.

With that said, we are very pleased that in the Senate one house bill,
there is a proposed funding increase of three and a quarter percent for
direct care and clinical staffs for OMH, OASAS and OPWPD providers. The
proposed increase starts on April 1, 2018 and goes through April 1, 2022.

As you can recall, last year there was passage of funding for the direct
care workforce that would provide a three and a quarter percent increase as
of January 1, 2018 and again in April 1, 2018. We were very praiseworthy of
the Governor and the Legislature but we also said that this is a first step
in a ‘staircase of need’ given that there had been very little in terms of
funding increases in staffing for many years. To continue funding at three
and a quarter percent will greatly help MHA’s and other provider agencies
dedicated to recruiting and retaining quality staff to work with our loved
ones.

At this afternoon’s Mental Hygiene Budget hearing, every member of the
Committee including the Senate Mental Hygiene Chair, Robert Ortt and the
Assembly Mental Hygiene Chair, Aileen Gunther highlighted the importance of
the workforce.

We thank Senator Ortt, the members of the Mental Hygiene Committee in the
Senate and Senators Flanagan and Young for including this request in their
budget. We are also very appreciative of the outspoken support by the
Assembly in today’s meeting and hope they will also support this language
being included in the State’s final budget.

At the end of the day, we are going to need your support to make this
happen. Remember all you have done in the last few years for mental health
services and public awareness. It is you who made this happen so in the
coming days, we will be imploring you to help us spread the word with the
Assembly and the Executive about increasing funding for workforce.

Stay tuned for advocacy opportunities.

Glenn Liebman, CEO