Hello all, some follow-up on how you can have a voice THIS WEEK if you're concerned about the state's budget for mental health & substance use programs and school-based health centers.
The Appropriations Committee will hear testimony related to the Governor's proposed budget for DMHAS and DPH this Friday, February 16, 2018 in Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building (LOB) in Hartford. The state agencies will present their testimony in the morning (DMHAS starts at 11am). The public hearing will begin at 4pm--what better way to kick off your weekend?!
What's at Stake?
Since FY13, including holdbacks and past reductions, DMHAS has already been reduced by over $70 million dollars (approximately a 22% reduction). Now the new budget proposal includes:
a new reduction of $3.0 million to the mental health grant accounts, $1 million substance abuse grant accounts. These grant accounts cover case management services, peer support services and psycho-social clubhouses.
a cut of almost $4 million to DMHAS Young Adult Services. These services provide specialized, age and developmentally appropriate supports to approximately 1350 young people annually. Services include clinical, residential, educational/vocational supports and life skills training.
an almost $2 million reduction in Home and Community Based Services, Housing Supports & Services (for supportive housing), and Discharge & Diversion Services. This funding supports the delivery of services in the community, as opposed to state institutions.
The DPH budget proposes cuts to the School-Based Health Centers, which are known to be both effective and cost-effective.
On the positive side, the governor's budget proposes to preserve the CT Legal Rights Project (CLRP) funding at the current level. And legislators have already shown their commitment to helping protect the Medicare Savings Program (MSP), at least for the time being--thank them for that!
It's important to ensure that all these programs are preserved by explaining their value and impact and demonstrating how much the cuts that have already been made have affected our communities. Also send a message that any funds that are reinstated shouldn't come out of another budget pocket that affects the same people. And if you support the legislature in looking into ways to increase revenue, let them know!
What can you do?
You can provide written testimony before 2pm on Friday, but preferably tomorrow. Use this sample template. Your document should be in Word and should be emailed to APPtestimony@cga.ct.gov. Please note that your document will be posted electronically on the CGA website unless you specify not to.
Even better, you can speak for 3 minutes at the public hearing.
The public hearing usually goes for many hours, so there is a lottery to determine the order of speakers. Let Maura at Keep The Promise (KTP) know if you are planning to speak and email her a written copy of your testimony by tomorrow (Thursday) at noon so she can sign you up and also make copies of your testimony.
On Friday morning there will be a lottery to draw people's names to determine the order of speakers; if you arrive after 1pm you'll be at the end of the speaker list.
The list of who will speak when will be posted outside Room 2C by 2pm Friday.
There will be a separate sign-up sheet for persons with special needs. Those speakers will be registered on a specialized list on a first-come first-served basis. The Committee Chairs will alternate speakers between the specialized list and the standard list until the specialized list has been exhausted.
Room 2600 will be reserved for individuals with special needs as a quiet space while waiting to testify.