Prior to the announcement on August 18 by Governor Ed Rendell of his plans for reductions in the FY 2010-11 state budget, the PA Mental Health/Mental Retardation (MH/MR) Coalition sent a letter to the Governor urging him to protect funding to services for people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities and substance abuse disorders during the budget balancing process. The letter was sent in response to budget adjustments being contemplated by the state as a result of a lower than anticipated Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). After his announcement of a $50 million reduction in the state’s Basic Education subsidy and imposition of a 1.9% budget freezes on discretionary appropriations totaling $162 million, the MH/MR Coalition called on state legislators to act to avoid reductions to funding of service to people needing mental health and mental retardation services. A letter from the coalition, including PARF, was sent to all PA House and Senate legislative leaders. The MH/MR Coalition cited several reasons for maintaining funding at approved levels, noting that state funding for mental health services was already cut by more than $35 million in the 2010-11 budget on top of cuts in the two previous budgets, demand for community services is growing as a result of a bad economy, further damage to the safety net of services must be avoided, and thousands of people with intellectual disabilities and their families depend on community-based services to ensure their continued health and safety as well as the quality of their daily lives.
On August 18 PA Governor Ed Rendell sent a letter to legislative leaders and the heads of various state government agencies asking that they make the same spending reductions that our commonwealth agencies are making by identifying areas to reduce your department’s 2010-11 spend by 1.9 percent. Governor Rendell asked that the leaders send documentation as to how they will meet this goal.
On August 18 Governor Ed Rendell said that he would be bridging the $282 budget shortfall created by the less-than-anticipated federal Medicaid funding through reductions in spending. The Governor announced a $50 million reduction in the state’s Basic Education subsidy and imposition of a 1.9% budget freezes on discretionary appropriations totaling $162 million. Governor Rendell said that he is asking the state legislature and other state agencies outside of the executive branch to voluntarily reduce their spending by 1.9% (some $22.8 million in cuts). Governor Rendell said that he was anticipating an additional $70 million in new revenues from the passage of a Marcellus shale tax sometime this fall. Specific details on the 1.9% budget freeze will soon be released.