Budget Deal Close to Completion, Block Grant Proposal Out
June 27, 2012
When Governor Corbett introduced his proposed budget in February, community providers were faced with devastating 20 percent cuts to county allocations and the incorporation of community mental health, intellectual disability base, behavioral health service initiative (BHSI), Act 152, and Human Services Development Fund dollars into the Human Services Block Grant. A mind boggling 90 percent of the proposed block grant was community mental health (75 percent) and intellectual disability base service (15 percent) dollars. If successful, the block grant would have resulted in the state abdicating its long-term responsibility for and commitment to care for people with mental illness and substance use disorders and potentially destroying one of the best public mental health systems in the country.
Most significantly, thanks to an all out effort by PCPA, Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability and Autism (BHIDA) Coalition members, and spearheaded by human services champion Representative Gene DiGirolamo, it appears that the Human Services Block Grant will be a pilot program at most. The BHIDA Coalition is developing language to provide a framework for a small pilot project with requirements for evaluation by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee before proceeding further.
While intense advocacy on behalf of community services was successful in mitigating the 20 percent cut, the budget spreadsheets released June 26 still incorporate a detrimental 10 percent cut to funding streams intended to be part of the proposed block grant. These include Community Mental Health, Intellectual Disability Base Funding, BHSI, and Act 152 drug and alcohol dollars.
The House Appropriations Committee is expected to meet today (June 27) to consider the amendment that incorporates the line items in the spreadsheet and report the amended bill to the House floor. The House will probably begin its debate of the budget bill today although a vote would not take place until June 28. PCPA will share more details as soon as they are available. Further questions may be addressed to Anne Leisure.