Mental health officials have testified at a legislative budget hearing, stressing the need for Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposed investments in the sector to be directed at the workforce before programs can be expanded successfully.
Hochul included a historic $1.1 billion for mental health programs in her executive budget proposal released Feb. 1, with millions of dollars proposed to develop new housing, expand psychiatric treatment, and increase mental health services in schools.
Officials and lawmakers agreed Thursday that the state’s mental health workforce will get a 2.5% cost-of-living adjustment pay increase as proposed in the governor’s budget.
However, they argued that 2.5% will not attract or retain staff after a 5.4% increase in last year’s budget and historic levels of inflation, and called for an 8.5% increase backed by $500 million to compete with the rising cost of groceries and utilities.
Senate Mental Health Committee chair Sen. Samra Brouk sponsors legislation to tie the annual cost of living adjustments for the state’s mental health workforce to inflation. The proposed budget also includes $30 million to increase inpatient beds for psychiatric treatment, including reopening 150 beds in state facilities that closed during the pandemic and continuing to reopen 850 beds in community facilities included in last year’s budget.
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