In the face of a massive budget deficit, California Governor Gavin Newsom presented his proposed budget today in Sacramento. Since taking office, the Governor has made unprecedented commitments to mental health and substance use programs. In today’s proposal, the Governor continued to prioritize behavioral health care.
Here are the Steinberg Institute’s initial takeaways on key areas impacting our mental health and substance use systems.
Behavioral Health Investments Protected
Despite the deficit, no cuts are proposed to behavioral health services, which means the most vulnerable Californians will continue to receive uninterrupted care. The Governor also preserved billions of dollars in recent investments to expand the state’s capacity to provide care. While no cuts were proposed to services or recent investments, some recently committed dollars are proposed to be delayed to future years to offset the immediate deficit. These proposed delays include:
- The final round of grants for the Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure (BHCIP), which has been used to build out our community continuum of behavioral health treatment resources for everything from wellness centers to mobile crisis units.
- Behavioral Health Bridge Funding which gave money to counties to operate bridge housing to address the immediate housing needs of people experiencing homelessness who have a serious mental illness or substance use disorder.
- Behavioral Health Workforce initiatives for nursing and social work, addiction psychiatry fellowships, university and college grants for behavioral health professionals, expanding Master of Social Work slots, and the local psychiatry behavioral health program.
The Steinberg Institute helped champion these workforce initiatives, designed to address California’s dire behavioral health workforce shortage. To meet the growing mental health and substance use needs in our state, it’s critical to have a system of care that is equitable and accessible to all Californians. We will continue to advocate for strengthening our workforce as the state works through budget challenges.
Budget investments during difficult times are a reflection of priorities. We are once again heartened that Governor Newsom is demonstrating his commitment to mental health and substance use care in California. Far too many people continue to needlessly suffer without the help they deserve.
988 Funding Protected Thanks to Innovative Funding Source
California’s 988 crisis line is protected from budget cuts, thanks to the protected funding source used to fund its implementation. Assembly Bill 988, The Miles Hall Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Act (Bauer-Kahan) ensures that 988 is funded through a small fee on phone lines, rather than through the General Fund. Thanks to the law, phone line fees for 988 are protected, and can only be used for 988 implementation and services. Along with The Kennedy Forum, the Steinberg Institute sponsored AB 988, and is currently serving on the 988 Advisory Board to develop a long-term implementation plan. We are committed to ensuring that the lifeline lives up to its promise and purpose for all Californians.
Our Vision 2030 Commitment
The Steinberg Institute is guided by our Vision 2030 Initiative. We are generating new research and data that will be used to reduce the cycle of hospitalization, homelessness and incarceration for those living with mental health and substance use challenges in California.
The Steinberg Institute will continue to advocate for these and other important priorities as the legislature debates the budget in the coming weeks and months. The Legislature must approve a balanced budget by June 15.