Proposed budget cuts to mental health could have trickle-down effect

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. - Some Johnson County mental health and public safety officials are concerned about possible cuts to the Kansas Mental Health Department.

Gov. Sam Brownback is proposing closing a 36-bed mental health facility in Osawatomie and reducing a planned expansion of a Kansas City facility from 50 beds to 36 beds.

A House committee is endorsing the governor's plan. But Michael Brouwer, a mental health liaison with the Adult Detention Center in Johnson County, said that budget cuts at the state level will only trickle down and hit taxpayers on the county level.

"The local public safety is picking up those costs and the local mental health facilities are picking up those costs with less funding from the state," said Brouwer.

Tom Erickson, public information officer for Johnson County, also explained that housing a mentally ill patient experiencing a crisis costs about $100 a day which is almost three times more than inmates in the general population.

Erickson also said that when services to the mentally ill are cut, then those people suffering mental problems are more likely to have a crisis which brings them back in contact with police and takes them back to the county jail.

Debate over the budget continues at the Kansas Capitol.

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