Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Say It Ain't So, Deval!

I have a really hard time following the state budget, and I hadn't heard of any of the Governor's "line-item" vetos affecting children's mental health this year, so I left for my 4th of July weekend feeling like the budget debate was done for this year.  Boy, was I wrong.
According to the EOHHS Webpage,  Line Item 40000950, the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative will take a hit.  All it says on the webpage is 
Veto Explanation:  I am reducing this item by an amount not recommended in light of available revenues.
Now I could not find in that Veto anything about how much he was cutting from the item, which is:
For the purposes of administrative and program expenses associated with the children's behavioral health initiative, in accordance with the settlement agreement in the case of Rosie D. et al. v. Romney, United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts civil action No. 01-30199-MAP, to provide comprehensive, community-based behavioral health services to children suffering from severe emotional disturbances; provided, that the secretary of health and human services shall report quarterly to the house and senate committees on ways and means relative to implementation of the initiative; and provided further, that such quarterly reports shall include, but not be limited to, details of the implementation plan, results of the scheduled plan to date, including a schedule detailing commencement of services and associated costs by service type, and an analysis of compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement to date.
and is budgeted at $65,833,963 in the GAA for FY2010.  But in the reconciled budget,  it was  listed at $68,000,000, so that is a $2.1 million (or 3%) cut.  (Details of all of the cuts are available here.)  So now what?

Clearly we need to push for an override.  This is a penny-wise (perhaps) but pound-foolish idea.  According to Health Care for All in a recent e-mail:

This veto threatens the effectiveness of the community based services that were rolled out on July 1. 
Please ask your networks to contact their State Representatives and State Senators and ask them to override Governor Patrick's veto of CBHI / Rosie D. funding. 
Couldn't have said it better myself.  Time to man the phones, my friends.  Let the legislators know that implementing a new program as you are cutting its budget is a recipe for failure.

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