Budget News, Information and Links
"The Civil Rights Movement of this decade is Mental Health Care quality and equality."
-- Updated January 12, 2006 --
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The mission of this page is to keep you updated on the latest news, commentary, and legislative agendas and organizational responses to budget matters that impact publicly-funded mental health care and substance abuse treatment.
Washington State Legislative Session Ended March 8, 2006.
Although we will do our best to keep you updated and to provide you with the latest news and commentary, we cannot guarantee that this page will always link you to the latest information.
To find the very latest news about Washington State, King County, Seattle City, and the United States Budget, we recommend that you go to the Google News Search Engine page and type into the search box words such as "Washington State budget," "King County budget" or a similar search phrase. You will get a comprehensive list of the most current articles from a large number of publications.
Please note that the Seattle Times newspaper now requires you to register to view archived material. It does not take much time, and it is worth the effort.
The Washington State legislative session ended March 8, 2006. Below are a few articles related to this year's session.
The 2006 Federal Budget -- Public Mental Health Care.
Medicaid is now the dominant source of funding for treatment and support services for both children and adults living with severe mental illness - currently, Medicaid comprises 50% of overall public mental health spending, a figure that is expected to rise to 60% by 2010. That makes all issues related to Medicaid budgets important for the future of public mental health care. Check the following links for more information and for ways to get involved in supporting better legislation.
Short-Term Gain can Often Mean Long-Term Pain.
It is well-documented by many studies that for every per-capita dollar cut from mental health care and substance abuse funding adverse consequences occur resulting in much greater costs to our communities:
Washington State Budget Information Pages.
- Increased Use of Expensive Resources
Lack of appropriate outpatient services leads to expensive, repeat emergency room care and expensive housing and treatment in hospital and and prison settings.
- Increased Relapse and Recidivism
Lack of appropriate support services and continuity of care leads to excessive relapses. Subsequent mental illness relapses are progressively more expensive and difficult to treat and recover from.
- Increased Ethical Problems
Lack of continuity of care brought about by budget cuts can be experienced as an "abandonment" by patients. The same strict ethical principles that prohibit "abandonment" of patients by physicians should apply to legislative and budget decision-makers.
- Reduced Community Morale
"Civilization" takes a big hit when care is so compromised that disabled mentally ill persons are forced into surviving on the streets of our cities.
- Increased Mental Illness Stigma
When substandard care is offered to mentally ill persons, the community learns that mentally ill people do not seem to get better. It is a classic self-fulfilling prophecy.
Please check Philip Dawdy's excellent Seattle Weekly articles:
Please check Lynne Varner's excellent column in which she states "It's time to acknowledge how a crueler, less-humanistic society is directly linked to our unwillingness to pay the true costs of a productive, compassionate society" -- Seattle Times Opinion dated January 7, 2003: Losing the blinders, feeling the pain.
The King County Budget
Washington State Income Tax?
The Seattle City Budget
Since the budget relies so heavily on sales tax for revenues, in difficult economic times, the general budget is severely impacted. What is the solution? Is there a solution other than just tightening belts and cutting services? Just how far can services be cut? Where is the budget fat? Is there any budget fat? What constitutes priority budget items?
Thank You for Stopping By!
Do those of us who care about the less fortunate in our state want to continue experiencing budgets for social services being persistently poached for patching pavement potholes?
The following are links to legislative proposals and discussions about a Washington State income tax and related tax issues spanning the last three years.
- Seattle P-I article posted September 17, 2004 -- Tax reform remains a state issue.
- From IDEAlog.us, posted July 8, 2004 -- Support Ron Sims' call for tax reform.
- From IDEAlog.us, posted March 9, 2004 -- The Sales Tax: is chump change making you a chump?.
- Seattle Times article posted December 22, 2003 -- Letters to the Editor Regarding State Income Tax.
- Seattle Times article posted December 17, 2003 -- The joys of not having a state income tax.
- Seattle P-I article dated January 8, 2003 -- State tax system hurts poor, data find -- Washington reported to have one of most regressive structures.
- Please check Lynne Varner's excellent column in which she states "It's time to acknowledge how a crueler, less-humanistic society is directly linked to our unwillingness to pay the true costs of a productive, compassionate society" -- Seattle Times Opinion dated January 7, 2003: Losing the blinders, feeling the pain.
- Seattle P-I article dated December 8, 2002 -- State's tax system: It's broke and needs fixing.
- Seattle P-I article dated December 4, 2002 -- Income tax is needed, panel tells Legislature.
- Best wishes, Ron Sterling M.D. (Seattle, Washington, USA)
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RON STERLING, M.D.
Copyright 2000-2007. Ron Sterling, M.D.
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