The Connecticut General Assembly is contemplating the fate of a two-year, $40.3 billion budget. Approved on June 3, this budget restored massive cuts to human services that were recommended by Gov. Dannel Malloy.
Now, lawmakers have to consider new budget cuts recommended by the governor that will wreak devastation on mental health and addiction care.
Make no mistake: these cuts are equivalent to a tsunami and will have a lasting aftermath. Connecticut’s mental health treatment has been a model for the nation, and the recommended budget cuts would dismantle and destabilize that system.
Among the immediate consequences of Malloy’s latest request would be further reduction in grants for mental health and addiction treatment, already cut from $25.5 million to $17 million.
The December 2012 Sandy Hook shootings sparked a nationwide conversation about improving mental health programs and expanding Americans’ access to timely, comprehensive care. Rather than cut these programs, Connecticut should lead national efforts to bolster its mental health and addiction programs, help people at-risk and focus on preventive treatments.
The Malloy administration should heed the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s recommendations that we invest in our “underfunded and fragmented behavioral health system.”
The Sandy Hook tragedy woke us up. Today, the General Assembly and Gov. Malloy have an opportunity to strengthen and expand care for those in need of mental health and addiction services—not cut the floor out from under them. Connecticut should not be walking away from its commitment to treat people with mental illness and addictions.
Linda Rosenberg is the president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health.