The Mental Health Budget, agreed on nearly unanimously, remains locked in Legislature as time runs out on July 1 shutdown - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, September 18, 2021
HomePoliticsThe Mental Health Budget, agreed on nearly unanimously, remains locked in Legislature as time runs out on July 1 shutdown

The Mental Health Budget, agreed on nearly unanimously, remains locked in Legislature as time runs out on July 1 shutdown

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A large portion of Alaska’s Operating Budget is the Mental Health Budget, which is passed separately and sailed without controversy through Conference Committee this month during Special Session 1.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy is now pleading with the House Majority to free the Mental Health Budget, which has not yet not transmitted to him for his signature.

A letter sent to Sen. Peter Micciche and House Speaker Louise Stutes from Dunleavy says that time is of the essence.

“CCS HB 71 passed the legislature on June 16 with the requisite votes necessary for an immediate effective date. I understand the bill has been enrolled and is ready for transmittal. While the legislature continues its negotiations on the State’s FY 2022 operating and capital budget, there is no need to delay funding for the state’s integrated comprehensive mental health programs. It is my intent to sign the legislation once I’ve received the bill,” he said.

The governor’s proposed Mental Health Budget had $153 million in unrestricted general funds, $63.4 million in designated general funds, and $16.7 million in Mental Health Trust Authority funds.

HB 71, as it came out of Conference Committee, totals $247 million, and was approved by the Senate unanimously, while in the House the vote was 37-2, nearly unanimous, with Rep. Sara Rasmussen absent.

The Mental Health Budget pays for numerous programs that could continue even in the event of a shutdown by the Legislature, due to the defective Operating Budget that needs an effective date clause. The Mental Health programs are required by a court settlement from long ago so that Alaska’s mentally ill or mentally disabled residents would have the care they need.

“The budget contains funding for Medicaid, senior and disability services, community residential centers, rehabilitation services, recidivism grants, therapeutic courts, juvenile justice programs, Alaska Psychiatric Institute, the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and other vital programs,” the governor wrote.

Trustees of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority approve operating and capital budgets in two-year cycles, with annual recommendations to the governor and Legislature.

And although the trustees are authorized to spend the Trust’s income without legislative appropriation, they are required by statute to recommend to the governor and Legislature operating and capital budgets for state general funds to support the Comprehensive Integrated Mental Health Program. The funds are disbursed throughout many agencies in the government and nonprofit sector.

The governor must then propose and the Legislature must pass a separate bill, known as the Mental Health Budget, which includes budgets for Trust funds and state general funds.

But for some reason, the bill has not been transmitted to the Governor’s Office for his signature.

Read: Many state jobs will continue during the shutdown

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • All these lame democratic, that don’t want to fund are full PFD
    Need to be sent to this institution until they get there act together. And help the people of this facility and all Alaskans.

  • FAKE NEWS

  • Half of these characters in the Legislature are either on deferred psychotherapy, or off of their psychotropic medications. I know because some of them are my patients.
    The sooner they get the MHB to the governor, the sooner I can get started.

  • I don’t care anymore. Shut it all down.
    Everything.

    Then vote every legislator out and fire the swamp that tells them what to do.

  • “The budget contains funding for Medicaid, senior and disability services, community residential centers, rehabilitation services, recidivism grants, therapeutic courts, juvenile justice programs, Alaska Psychiatric Institute, the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and other vital programs,” the governor wrote.
    .
    Most of these things are not essential government services that other citizens should be paying for.
    Is the government your caregiver? Should it be?
    Should the state government be in the psychiatric business?
    Community residential centers…so the rest of us have to pay for housing?
    Remember this when the legislature comes for new taxes and higher fees or when they take the majority of your PFD to pay for all these socialistic welfare services.
    Government is not your parent and the rest of us are not responsible for making your life better.

  • I am not even sure if API and Providence are doing an excellent job at changing peoples lives. All that money going into mental health services and homeless around the state might not even be worth spending to keep those employees.

    The success stories seem to reflect more about the person humbling themselves before the Lord as well as they had a supportive family who also recieved Christ; rather than the staff and services.

  • “Stutes noted numerous legislators had excused absences Friday and says the timing of the next floor session would allow more members to be present.”

    After all that “hard” work, they “deserve” the time off. Shut the government down.

  • @Dr. Dan:
    Have you ever used electric shock therapy as part of your treatments?
    If you need assistance, I can loan you my old prongs and 12 volt batteries. They still work.

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