February 2, 2023
Governor Hochul’s executive budget includes a number of historic proposals that are intended to reform New York’s mental health system. We applaud her inspiring and hopeful vision. But, unless more funding is provided to the state’s network of mental health and substance abuse disorder agencies, her vision will not be realized because of the devastating workforce shortages and out of control expenses that continue to plague community-based providers. The budget’s proposed 2.5% COLA for mental health and substance use disorder agencies is just not enough.
The entire human services sector requested an 8.5% COLA. The NYS Council’s members—the state’s mental health and substance use disorder providers—continue to experience a devastating one-two punch. We are unable to recruit or retain staff due to inadequate salaries. This, coupled with skyrocketing expenses for basics such as utilities, food, gasoline, maintenance, and insurance, has left our agencies behind the eight ball. Our agencies are depleted and considering consolidation or closure at precisely the moment when we should be vastly expanding access to care across New York. Some of the Governor’s proposals intend to do just that, but we can’t make it happen without staff, or the ability to pay our bills.
The NYS Council is also concerned that the executive budget appears to rely heavily on Opioid Settlement funds to address the needs of New Yorkers with substance use disorder/addictions, and the agencies that serve them. New York State should be making new investments in the substance use disorder continuum of care to address the needs of our local communities where opioid and other substance-related deaths of despair are devastating our local communities.
We look forward to working with the NYS Legislature as they develop their budgets, and we remain hopeful that the people who need our services will be able to receive them.