Bentley lays out impacts of proposed budget cuts on state departments

In recent appearances around the state, Gov. Robert Bentley has taken the opportunity to promote his tax hike proposal and to detail the impacts of budget cuts proposed by the Legislature on several state departments and entities, with specific focus on how services provided to citizens will be affected. This article condenses three of those presentations, taken from the Governor’s press office releases.

Impact on Department of Mental Health ($99 million total budget reduction)

• 24,000 mentally ill people will lose or experience reductions in services

• 584 will lose residential services such as group homes

• 4840 will lose intensive outpatient services like hospitalization programs

• 16,000 will lose routine outpatient services like psychiatric services and medication

• 2600 will be unable to access stabilization service such as psychiatric inpatient units

• 1080 mental health employees in various counties will lose their jobs

• 2000 will lose supported employment and day program supports

• 3000 on the waiting list for services will not receive them

• many family members of the mentally ill will lose their jobs because they will have to stay home to care for those affected by loss of services

• a majority of small providers of residential and day care services for the mentally ill will go out of business

• $6 million in federal funding will be lost

Impact on Department of Forensic Sciences

closure of Huntsville Regional Laboratory and Morgue (used by Blount County)

• increase in transportation cost for county governments

• will delay death certificates needed to claim death benefits

• toxicological analysis (identification of chemical substances causing death) will be eliminated on suicides, natural and accidental deaths, and non-criminal traffic fatalities

• fire debris and arson case testing will be eliminated

• layoffs of departmental personnel will be implemented

• skilled personnel will be lost, resulting in longer wait times and increasing backlogs

“If enacted, these cuts will put the state in a position incapable of providing many of the essential services of government,” Bentley said.“I encourage Alabamians to let their elected representatives know that these cuts are unacceptable.”

(Editor’s note: Other state agencies/services have been mentioned or targeted for budget cuts. These include state parks, state driver’s license offices, parole and probation offices, mental health hospitals, and district attorney offices, among others.)