Goodwin: Ethics hearing shouldn’t distract from devastating cuts to mental health

State Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, thanked the members of the Senate Ethics Committee for their deliberations today regarding the complaint by Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, against Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas. Goodwin said she hopes this will be a teachable moment on the importance of both ethical conduct and preserving and protecting the mental health services for Minnesotans.

“Minnesota legislators are expected to have the highest standards. We are elected to do the business of the people and those who elected us expect us to behave with the utmost professionalism and integrity,” said Sen. Goodwin.

“Having said that, it is important to remember what this is really about, the severe cuts to mental health services in the Health and Human Services budget that left the legislature. If Republicans refuse to compromise on these cuts, they will be effectively foreclosing on Minnesota’s mental health services and system. When my words were taken out of context, I was discussing how far we have come and how far we still have to go to provide adequate services and care for individuals with mental health problems. I don’t want that message ignored.”

Under bills rightfully vetoed by Governor Mark Dayton, mental health services were slashed in many ways:
• Over $13.5 million was cut from adult mental health grants
• The vetoed legislation also reduced the Children and Community Services grant by $22 million, of which, 16% goes for children’s mental health services and 6% is for adult mental health services
• $1.3 million from psychiatric hospital contract beds
• Children’s mental health screening and evidence-based practice grants by over $4.5 million
• A general reduction to state operated mental health services by $5.38 million dollars
• Cuts to general assistance that will affect group homes and care facilities, forcing them to struggle to keep the doors open.
• Freezing Medicaid waivers used by people with mental illnesses- representing a cut of up to $93 million in aid over the next biennium.
• Severe cuts to local government aid to counties that help provide these services.
• School layoffs that include social workers and counselors and cuts to integration aid.
• Proposed 15% cut to state staff/services.

“This is not the time to pull out the rug on mental health services,” said Sen. Goodwin. “The economic downturn and two wars have placed tremendous stress on adults and children in our state. The cuts roll back the progress Minnesota has made and place adults and children at risk. They are in addition to cuts made last session meaning a significant loss of funding for community mental health and creating new barriers to accessing mental health treatment.”

Sen. Goodwin added that Sen. Hoffman’s actions also diverted attention away from the consequences of the Republican’s proposed cuts to mental health services for children and teens, and demonstrated the problem of cyber-bullying.

“We need to get serious about a compromise on the state budget to prevent a shutdown that will halt all state services,” said Sen. Goodwin. “We should step away from the political issues, find funding for mental health services, and continue our commitment towards a state that helps people in these times of great need.”

For more information, contact Sen. Goodwin’s capitol office at (651) 296-4334 or sen.barb.goodwin@senate.mn.

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Senator Barb Goodwin
Barb Goodwin represents District 41, which includes portions of Anoka, Hennepin, and Ramsey counties in the northern Twin Cities metropolitan area. She is the vice chair of the Judiciary Committee and Judiciary Budget Division.

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