What the heck is happening in Washington?

March 6, 2021

What’s Going On in Washington?

If you turn on the TV this morning and wonder what is going on on Capitol Hill, lawmakers in the Senate have been debating over 100 amendments brought by Senate R’s (minority) designed to hold up and protest the passage of the Senate’s vote on the American Rescue Plan.  They have just ended what is commonly referred to as a ‘Vote-A-Thon’ in which amendments to the Senate bill can be brought by lawmakers and each amendment has to be voted on separately and by roll call vote.  This is a chance for Senator R’s (minority) to get on the record regarding their objections to the Senate bill.  The Vote-A-Thon just ended and the full Senate is now voting on the bill.

The Senate Dems (majority) are in a position where they absolutely cannot lose even one vote (they need 51 votes total and this will include a tie breaker vote from VP Kamala Harris).  The Senate will vote today and, assuming they vote as a unified block, the bill then needs to go back to the House for another vote before it can go to the president’s desk for signature.

Background:  Recently the House of Representatives passed its’ version of the Biden American Rescue Plan that includes significant COVID Relief for Americans who are in a world of pain due to myriad issues most of which have been exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic.  In addition to language that would increase and extend unemployment benefits (scheduled to run out next week) until September for millions of Americans, resources to speed up production and distribution of vaccines, and a proposed $350B in funds for states and localities, the bill also includes major increases to existing funding for SAMHSA for both federal block grants.  These funds will flow to all states for purposes of increasing availability of mental health and substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery services.

Implications for NYS:  The issue here in NY is that the information regarding what NYS may have already received or has received as result of the December 2020 Federal Budget Deal (which included a COVID Relief Package) does not match the overall increases for the OASAS and OMH budgets, according to the state’s Financial Plan. Needlessly to say, tracking the funds coming from the December package and the anticipated funds associated with the (currently under consideration) new COVID Relief bills back to the recently proposed executive budget proposal is ‘challenging’ .

For NYS, and based on what we see in the FY 22 executive budget proposal language that includes expected incoming block grant funds resources from the federal package passed late in 2020,here’s how it looks (directly below). Note, assuming the House proposal is also adopted by the Senate as part of the federal package being negotiated we would expect to see additional resources for the Block Grants.  The House package that already passed includes an additional 1.75B (across all states) for each of the two Block Grants.

FY 22 Executive Proposed Budget:
OMH All Funds FY 22: Reduced by $30.3M according to the State Financial Plan
OMH Aid to Localities FY 22: Increased by $35.8M

OASAS All Funds FY 22:  Increased by $25.3M according to the State Financial Plan
OASAS Aid to Localities FY 22: Increased by $87.6M

OMH CMHS Block Grant

  •  Adult                                   FY 21 = $32.5M        FY 22= $73.1M    
  •  Children & Families:           FY 21 = $7.5M          FY 22 = $16.9M 

 OASAS SAPT Federal Block Grant             

  • Community Tx and Supports:    FY 21 = $82M       FY 22 = $153.15M    
  • Prevention & Support:               FY 21 = $33M       FY 22 = $61.6M 
  • Opioid Crisis Grants:                 FY 21 = $30M       FY 22= $30M 

Note:  These numbers do not reflect the entirety of federal block grant funds coming in to NYS as result of the 2020 COVID Relief deal or the anticipated COVID Relief bill already passed but the House and likely to be voted on by the Senate today.