Share “Shumlin wants $20M more for mental health”

Shumlin wants $20M more for mental health

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm •  Published: January 2, 2013

One area of upward pressure for spending is coming in the state's mental health system, which has been in upheaval since late August 2011, when the 54-bed Waterbury State Hospital, the state's largest public psychiatric facility, was forced to close by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. Vermont's plan has been to move to a more decentralized system using smaller psych units around the state and beefed up community services.

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.