Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, stands before the opening of the 85th Texas Legislative session in the house chambers at the Texas State Capitol after he was re-elected for a fifth consecutive term, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in Austin, Texas.
Initial state budget numbers reveal a potential boost in mental health funding, a relief in lean times.
House Speaker Joe Straus made it one of his priorities, naming a committee to study and recommend fixes for the state’s antiquated mental health system.
The House wants to foot a bigger bill of about $162 million of general funds to address mental healthcare, but the Senate’s recommendation of $95 million is not too shabby, either.
Either amount is heartening.
Both the Senate and House want to “address current and projected wait lists for community mental health services for adults and children,” one of the biggest issues to fix.
State mental health hospitals get bogged down and overwhelmed with people needing mental healthcare, and community mental health hospitals don’t fare much better.
But hospitals aren’t pegged for a funding increase. Both the Senate and House want to strip about $115 million from mental health state hospitals and about $40 million from community ones.
The state should consider immediate ways to address mental health issues, like treatment availability at hospitals, while putting together a long-term plan.