Reardon said the costs of doing that would increase by about $20 million, bringing Vermont's current mental health budget to about $194 million.
More people have been seeking help from the state's two principal welfare program, also creating pressure for more spending. The administration is asking for nearly $2.2 million more for general assistance, and a nearly $4.7 million increase for the Reach Up program, which seeks to place welfare recipients in jobs.
Reardon expressed confidence that Vermont would not run a budget deficit. He said the state had reserve funds it could tap into to help cover the gaps between now and the close of the fiscal year in June. He also said more than $4 million collected by the attorney general's office in settlements of lawsuits it had brought would help as well.