This morning at 11:30 Governor Cuomo will be introducing his annual budget under the most unusual backdrop of recent history. The Governor has been very clear about the deficit the State faces both this year and going into next year. Much of the blame for the deficit is because of the financial devastation of COVID and the lack of federal support to help New York respond to the pandemic. This will likely change dramatically tomorrow when President-Elect Biden is sworn in as President and the Democrats take over the Senate with New Yorker Charles Schumer as Majority Leader.
We might not have a full reconciliation of the Governor’s Executive proposal till after we find out what a federal stimulus package will look like for New York. There will likely be all kinds of caveats in the Governor’s budget address today. We know he will propose initiatives that will increase revenues for the state around legalization of marijuana and sports betting. We don’t know about any possible revenue raisers through any proposed tax increases or other initiatives.
So we go into the budget season from a mental health perspective looking at several different things based on his State of the State. It will be a very interesting few months until the budget is likely passed in early Apri
Here are a few things we are paying attention to in the Budget:
Community Mental Health
Will funding for community mental health remain whole this year? We have faced twenty percent withholds since July. Will the withholds be restored?
Last year the #3for#5 campaign was gaining momentum until the pandemic hit New York. Now more than ever, our workforce have been among the heroes of COVID. How will the State respond to the needs of the Human Services workforce in this budget?
Crisis Stabilization Centers
The Governor referenced crisis stabilization centers in the State of the State as part of a Comprehensive Crisis Response System developed with OMH and John Hopkins. The idea of the Centers will be to divert admission for people with mental health and addiction needs from hospitals to crisis stabilization centers. Will be looking for greater details and funding additions for that initiative.
The State of the State references the continued need for housing. How will this play out in the budget? Will the State continue their commitment from last year to new supported housing beds?
Integration of OMH and OASAS to form the Office of Behavioral Health
The Governor references this proposed new agency in the State of the State. Will the budget include language about this integration? Is there a proposed savings in this integration and how will the savings be utilized? Will it be for community behavioral health or in the State’s General Fund?
Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) and Mental Health First Aid
The Governor references CIT and Mental Health First Aid as a mechanism to train law enforcement and the community about responding to a mental health crisis. Traditionally, this is funding that has come from the Legislature. Will the Executive budget include funding for CIT and Mental Health First Aid?
MHANYS School Mental Health Resource and Training Center
This is an important part of funding for MHANYS as the last two years, the Executive Budget has included $500,000 for the Resource Center. The Center has been incredibly responsive during COVID to the needs of educators, students and administrators by providing hundreds of trainings and webinars. It would be devastating to schools across the State to not continue this invaluable resource regarding integration of mental health in schools.
We look forward to finding out some of these answers in the next few days. We will certainly be raising our voices throughout the next few months on these and other mental health issues.
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