Advocates Warn Pritzker on Behavioral Health Budget Cuts

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Governor JB Pritzker has alarmed Illinois mental health and addiction treatment advocates over budget cuts threat.
Governor JB Pritzker has alarmed Illinois mental health and addiction treatment advocates over budget cuts threat. (Screen Capture)

(Springfield, IL) – After Illinois voters failed to approve a new state income tax system, a top Illinois behavioral health advocacy group has a blunt message for Governor JB Pritzker on potential budget cuts on state mental health and addiction treatment funding: don’t do it.

"During the 2018 gubernatorial election, Governor Pritzker campaigned on his support for mental health and addiction treatment, and we expect him to keep his promise especially in the middle of a pandemic when suicide and drug overdoses have exploded in Illinois ," said Illinois Association for Behavioral Health CEO Jud DeLoss. "Governor Pritzker must shield mental health and addiction treatment from any budget cuts."

DeLoss pointed to Pritzker’s comments on September 14, 2018 six weeks before the 2018 election.

"…[Y]ou can rely upon me in the fight to address mental health and addiction – and to discuss these issues without shame or stigma," said Pritzker. "You’d think mental health would be a priority in our state; one that would be talked about openly and honestly at home, and in our schools, and in the workplace. For far too long, politicians from both parties have been too timid when it comes to shining a spotlight on and addressing mental health."

In fact, the governor in his first two budgets, did keep his promise. Pritzker increased behavioral health funding by $80 million in his first budget and by $40 million in his second.

But after the defeat of Pritzker’s progressive income tax constitutional amendment on November 3 – and a projected loss of a $1.2 billion infusion into the state’s coffers – the governor warned of "painful" budget reductions last week.

"There will be cuts, and they will be painful," Pritzker said on November 4.

"There are other ways to balance the Illinois budget without axing money for mental health and addiction treatment services that are needed more than ever in a pandemic," said DeLoss. "Governor Pritzker should get creative on his budget balancing strategy."

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via Chicago, IL Patch

November 10, 2020 at 03:59PM

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