Making the Case Against State Budget Cuts
With shortfalls in state budgets threatening mental health programs, Mental Health America and its affiliates are deploying resources to prevent reductions in funding. To make the case that state mental health funding is essential to the well-being of consumers, the National office is preparing a tool that advocates can use to argue against cuts.
The tool will be posted on the website and include a fact sheet, lessons learned, advocacy strategies, and a storyboard that affiliates can use to make their own videos to reach the public and policy makers.
Forty-eight of the 50 states are experiencing shortfalls for their FY 2010 budgets, totaling $168 billionâ€”or almost one-quarter of state budgets. This is putting state mental health budgets on the chopping block all over the country, and advocates have been working hard to preserve services in their communities.
Strong advocacy efforts by affiliates and advocates have successfully thwarted cuts in funding in several states. The MHAs in California were integral to preserving funding for mental health services collected through Proposition 63 (the Mental Health Services Act), a ballot measure approved by voters in 2004 to tax the wealthiest Californians. Proposition 1E would have taken almost half a billion dollars from the revenue generated by Prop 63 and used it to balance the state budget. Due to the efforts of mental health advocates, and especially MHA affiliates in the state, Prop 1E was defeated in May.
Ohio has not been so lucky. Despite the work of advocates, Governor Ted Strickland, who was a strong supporter of mental health as a Congressman, cut $2.5 billion from the budget, including significant reductions in mental health spending. Among the cuts are a 30 percent reduction in addiction services, a 16.5 percent reduction in community mental health services and a 43 percent reduction in funding for group homes in the community for individuals with mental illnesses.
But New Jersey's mental health budget is safe for another year, thanks to the advocacy of the MHA in New Jersey and their partner organizations. MHANJ created a video (you can view it here) for policy makers and the public emphasizing the importance of maintaining funding for mental health services in the community.
Similar efforts can help prevent damaging cuts around the country. ::