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State Mental Health Budget in Governor’s Hands

Written by Bruce Cruser

Bruce Cruser has been Executive Director of Mental Health Virginia since 2016, bringing a background in social work and community corrections, and many years of leadership experience in local and state government.

March 14, 2024

The Governor’s introduced budget included additional support for mental health services, including desperately needed major increases for crisis services. The legislature then decreased funding for some things and increased it for others. Just a few are listed below.

Crisis Services – Governor proposed $35.6 million in new funding, the legislature reduced that to 32.6 million.

Mobile Crisis Units – The Legislature reduced the Governor’s $20 million to $10 million.

STEP VA – Community Services Boards (CSB) received no increase in the Governor’s budget but got $9 million in the Legislature for outpatient behavioral health services.

State Hospital Extraordinary Barriers to Discharge – Legislature added $12 million to help with discharge planning to reduce the backlog of patients medically cleared for release but still in the hospital because they have nowhere to go.

Workforce – Legislature added $15 million for CSB staff recruitment and retention.

Behavioral Health Loan Repayment (to attract people to work in behavioral healthcare) – Legislature reduced the Governor’s $10 million increase for this program to $8.5 million.

Schools – Overall, a promising start but disappointing legislative action.

  • The legislature changed the intent for the Governor’s $15 million for school based mental health services to “school based health clinics,” not specifically mental health.
  • The Governor’s $14.4 million proposed for mental telehealth in schools was changed to language about awarding contracts.
  • Higher Education – The Governor’s $6 million for college student mental health was deleted by the legislature.

Housing – Legislature added $6 million for Permanent Supportive Housing for those with Serious Mental Illness.

The Governor can sign, veto or amend budget items.

For more information, see the Commonwealth Institute’s side by side budget comparisons Commonwealth Institute Budget Comparisons, and the Voices for Virginia’s Children blog on how youth mental health fared Youth mental health budget comparisons  

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