Sunday, January 30, 2011

Texas mental health budget could be cut as much as 40%


BRAZORIA COUNTY, Texas -- Mental health services could see drastic cuts, if a similar version of the draft budget passes the Texas Legislature.

Texas ranks 49th in the country in per capita spending on mental health programs. The proposed budget would cut spending by 40 percent.

Mike Winburn, who works with the mentally disabled in Galveston and Brazoria counties, was in Austin for the news.

“[I’m] shocked,” he said. “Totally shocked -- I was pretty mad all the way home.”

Winburn said he struggles with the thought that losing millions could close clinics and force an even larger bill on taxpayers.

“The jails will become filled with people with mental illness and they don’t need to be there,” Winburn said. “They need to be treated.”

Jamie Travis said the change could severely impact her household. Travis’ 31-year old daughter
Christy was born with disabilities, and has the mental capacity of a 6 month old.

“She’s non-verbal,” Travis said. “She’s non ambulatory. She doesn’t walk and uses a wheelchair.”

Money from the state helps Travis stay at the West Columbia home.

But with dramatic budget cuts proposed in Austin that could soon change.

“It will be a cut,” said Travis. “It will be a budget cut for us. It will make a difference in Christy’s life.”

Travis’ plan is to stay at home with Christy no matter what. She’ll just have to wait and see if she’ll keep getting state help to do it.