Cut the cuts

Published 7:00 am Friday, January 13, 2017

State funding for facilities that treat a wide variety of mental illnesses was cut by $8.3 million last year.

Gov. Phil Bryant announced Thursday he would be cutting another $50.97 million from the general fund budget, equating to a 1.45 percent cut in most agencies, excluding K-12 public education, the military, Veterans Affairs, some law enforcement agencies, district attorneys, other courts, student financial aid and state schools for the deaf and blind.

According to a press release from Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s office, Hood is placing the funding of the Department of Mental Health at the top of his legislative agenda for 2017. 

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While funding continues to be cut for that department,

the U.S. Department of Justice sued Mississippi for not providing adequate services to the mentally ill.

“In fact, since 2008, budget constraints have forced the Department of Mental Health to reduce the number of beds by approximately 500,” the release states.

In recent years, Hood encouraged legislators to increase funding for various state agencies, including passing legislation to curb opioid abuse, to no avail according to the release.

The state continues to cut budgets due to what the Governor calls a shortage in revenue because the economy still hasn’t recovered from the recession. Others have said revenue is down because of tax cuts to large corporations.

Meanwhile, Hood is proposing legislation that would implement a tax on Internet sales that could potentially bring more than $130 million in revenue annually.

While the debate about how to balance the budget continues for another year, the mentally ill residents of Mississippi and Pearl River County are plagued by the consequences.

Drug abuse and mental illness is abundant nationwide, and this county is no exception. Many of us have seen first-hand the damage these treatable diseases can cause.

There are some aspects of our society that should never see a cut in funding, but instead growth. The education and mental and physical health of our county should never be outweighed.

About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

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