The Appropriations Committee will be holding its Public Hearing on the proposed budgets for DMHAS and DPH this Thursday, 2/23, starting at 4:30pm at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. The Governor's budget proposal is a starting point for discussion, so legislators are looking to hear from the public as they decide what monies to re-instate and where to make cuts. If you care about protecting mental health services, please make your voice heard! See below for a summary of key points and how to write and submit your testimony.
The proposal for the DMHAS budget includes:
Continuing the cuts made in FY 2017, which means holding over a $14.2 million reduction in each fiscal year
Reducing the mental health, substance use, and supported employment grants by $4.7 million each fiscal year. (Note: Since FY13, there has already been a 25% cut to these grants)
Privatizing certain state-operated services (a $2.5 million reduction in FY18 and a $5.0 million reduction in FY19)
"Consolidating" the Regional Mental Health Boards & Regional Action Councils and reducing their total funding by $1.2 million. (This is not a "consolidation" cut but would instead would de-fund the RMHBs entirely as well as most of the RACs' money. The RACs' other funding source is also zeroed out so essentially this budget "reduction" would put all these organizations out of business.) Please see attached RMHB info sheet.
Reducing Legal Services by $388,000 reduction in each fiscal year, in addition to a $28K holdover cut. (This would eliminate housing advocacy and severely impact other advocacy provided by the CT Legal Rights Project (CLRP) for people with severe mental illness.)
Increasing funding by $3.2 milllion in specific budget lines to cover increased costs in translation, medical services costs, Workers’ Compensation Claims, Nursing Home Screening and Behavioral Health Medications
Increasing funding for caseload growth and annualization for behavioral health services for low income adults and Money Follows the Person: An increase of $2.7 million in FY18 and $5.4 million in FY19.
The proposed DPH budget includes a 10% decrease in funding for School-Based Health Centers, despite their proven success. Please see attached briefing note on SBHCs from our legislative forum in December 2014.
Please see also attached Keep The Promise (KTP) Coalition priorities handout.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OPINIONS HEARD:
Please submit your comments in writing to the Appropriations Committee, ideally by Wednesday at 2pm. You can email a Word or PDF document to APPtestimony@cga.ct.gov. Follow the format provided below.
Thursday night is an important time to appear in person if you are able! In that case, you will have 3 minutes to provide oral testimony. (You may choose to read your written comments aloud or to say something different and shorter and just refer to the written comments.) Plan to be there a long time because a lot of people will be speaking! There will be a quiet room reserved for waiting as well as 2 rooms where testimony will be taking place.
If you are going to Hartford in person to testify on the DMHAS budget, the Keep The Promise Coalition (KTP) can sign you up & draw a number for you that morning, but you will need to let Maura know by Monday the 20th. Contact her at 860-788-6180 or KTP@cahs.org. Also let her know if you would like to be on the sign-up list for people with special needs.
If you are going to appear in person, you should bring 30 copies of your testimony with you. If you need SWRMHB to make copies for you, please let me know no later than Wednesday morning.
Begin both your oral and written testimony as follows:
Senator Formica, Senator Osten, Representative Walker, and members of the Appropriations Committee:
My name is __________ and I am a registered voter in ____________. [Optional: I am here representing ____organization/group_____.] I am here to testify about HB 7027, An Act Concerning the State Budget.
Then identify the parts of the budget that you think are important to keep funded (or re-fund) and why. You can comment generally or be very specific about any of the line items for DMHAS or DPH. If you can give personal examples of how those services or programs have helped you or your community, that will be very helpful. Be sure to thank the legislators at the end for supporting services to people with mental health and/or substance use disorders.
See you up there on Thursday night! If you have any questions, please give me a call.