House lawmakers saved millions of dollars worth of mental health programs; the Senate fought off a pay reduction for state workers. But both chambers agreed to budget cuts that jeopardize the state’s share of future federal money.
Those were among the results of a final conferencing between House and Senate budget chiefs as the time remaining for negotiations quickly wound down.
After days of rebuffing counteroffers, the House won the battle over funding for mental health and substance abuse programs. Rep. Denise Grimsley, the House health care budget chairwoman who is also a nurse, led the House standoff to preserve $14 million for community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment and support programs throughout the state, including Hillsborough County.
George Sheldon, secretary of the state Department of Children & Families, said he was grateful for Grimsley’s support for those programs, but was concerned about the chambers’ agreement to chop funding in half for Healthy Families. That program targets families at risk for child abuse and neglect and offers them education and support services.
“That’s 5,800 families,” said Sheldon, adding that such a drastic cut to Healthy Families may threaten Florida’s chance at winning part of a multiyear, $1.5 billion federal grant to improve and expand such programs. Continue reading here.