In more ways that one, the recent budget settlement is about going back to work. The state government ordered employees to report as normal this morning, and will be bringing back functions and services as able. For the politicians, they now go to the task of explaining, spinning, selling their actions to their constituents. For us? It means trying to fully understand where the impacts of this budget will be felt, and setting the stage for next year.
Because Minnesota borrowed money to patch the budget, it is very unlikely that we have hit bottom in terms of service cuts and reductions. State grants to counties have been cut, something that we tried very hard to avert. Much like in the years leading up to the successful reforms of 2007, we find ourselves with a mental health system with less and less capacity to foster recovery and support people in the community. What will it take to get another victory, and start investing in mental health again?
But there are bright spots, as well as concerns. Counties will still have spending requirements for mental health services (known as maintenance of effort). This has been a major point of contention, and we are very relieved to see this. The efforts to repeal the expansion of Medical Assistance were turned back. And some of the crisis grants that help get people to treatment instead of taxing the 911 system were preserved.
This is a very mixed verdict, and one that will be difficult for many of us. MHAM is more determined than ever to make the case at the capitol for community mental health. We are so grateful for everyone who called, wrote, and pushed their legislators to consider the impacts. We hope you will stick with us over the break (we will update as needed, but less often than in session) as we get ready for another chance to make things better.
For more details, please read our update on the website.
More heat is on the way for Minnesota. Please take care of yourself, and check in with folks who may be sensitive to heat. For more information, please check out our entry from earlier this summer. Keep drinking water, maybe check out a library or other public build that has AC, and stay safe.
In other news, we may have a budget and an end to the shutdown in sight. You can find our more on our legislative update page.
Are you feeling the impact of the state government shutdown yet? If you care about accessible mental health service, the chances are you have. Not not everyone is equally affected.
As the shutdown drags on, however, the number of people impacted is going to expand greatly. Construction projects are stalled, some restaurants can’t restock because their liquor license has expired. Racetracks and state parks are closed. Resorts are losing business, because fishing permits are on hold. Lottery tickets can’t be purchased in MN.
While the ability to enjoy many of these recreational opportunities will not be “critical” as defined by Judge Gearin’s rulings, they are the kinds of things lots of folks notice. We hope that people will take their frustration about these things and join the chorus: find a budget compromise, as free as possible from divisive policy issues, and get the state back to work.
We all play a role in creating the voice of the people. Not everyone uses every service the state provides. You might notice a different impact of the shutdown than what others do. So speak out, and make sure your priorities are heard. We need to make sure that we are reminding our elected officials that we expect the state to continue to fund programs and services that help make recovery a possibility for all Minnesotans with mental illnesses.
For more detail, please see our weekly update.
It strongly appears that we are no closer to an approved budget, despite getting one week closer to the final deadline before a government shutdown. This week’s update has more details on what some of the court filings have been and the issues that remain.
We are encouraging anyone who can to join us on Tuesday evening for a candlelit vigil on the steps of the State Capitol Building. We’ll be there with other groups in the Mental Health Legislative Network, reminding policymakers of the impact of both the cuts that are proposed as well as the interruption of a shutdown. For more information, you can check out the event here.
This morning, Judge Kathleen Gearin made initial rulings on some of the petitions before the courts. She dismissed arguments from both sides, refusing to appoint a mediator as Dayton had asked, but also declining to order a special session of the legislature. She pointedly reminded both sides of their ability to solve these issues and spoke of her concern of the potential impact of a shutdown.
Right now, we do not know if there will be a shutdown. We don’t know how long it would last if it happens. We don’t know for sure what services will be “essential” and what will stop.
We do know that it will be a bad outcome for so many. Interruption of services, financial strain on community health providers, loss of health insurance…
Please check out our update this week on what we’re seeing, and how you can help get a budget that is fair to Minnesotans with mental illnesses.