Houston State Representative Sylvester Turner praised the House Appropriations Committee today as it voted to increase funding for mental health programs.
The Committee added more than $250 million in new funding for projects ranging from housing programs to veterans’ assistance to substance abuse programs and more. Turner in January announced a bi-partisan effort for an unprecedented level of funding for mental health over the next biennium.
“We looked at all the mental health strategies throughout the budget,” said Rep. Turner. “We have moved money to community programs, crisis services, substance abuse, places to live. We will help youth, adults, veterans, and homeless. There is no question that we have made mental health a major priority.
“This additional funding will be transformational for people in our state who suffer from mental illness,” continued Turner. “We have done a woeful job in the past of serving our citizens with mental health problems. This will create a meaningful infrastructure that should remove Texas from the bottom of the list on mental health spending.”
Turner praised as champions of this issue Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts and Subcommittee Chairman John Zerwas and the full Appropriations Committee for giving its collective support. He also praised the help provided by Commissioner Dr. David Lakey of the Texas Department of State Health Services, law enforcement, Mental Health/Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, mental healthcare providers and the media.
“The Legislature responded and we are on the right track,” said Turner.
Among the additional dollars assigned to mental health are $54 million for the adult mental health waiting list and $3.1 million for the children’s waiting list, amounts that Turner says will serve everyone now on those lists. Also added were $20 million for housing assistance, $15 million for mental health programs in the juvenile justice system, $5 million for substance abuse, $4 million for veterans’ programs and $2.4 million for the Harris County Psychiatric Center.
“We must move away from a crisis-based system which leaves our jails and our emergency rooms as de facto mental health providers,” said Turner. “These additional dollars will literally transform our mental health system and provide the help to those who so desperately need it.”
Contact: Sue Davis