Las Vegas Sun

August 1, 2014

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Lawmakers restore mental health, disability funding in state budget

CARSON CITY – The budget committees of the Legislature agreed today to pump millions of dollars into the state’s mental health programs and to restore full funding for services to children with autism and other disabilities.

The Assembly Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, however, agreed to go along with Gov. Brian Sandoval to hire private psychiatrists and physicians to treat the mentally ill and eliminate some state positions.

The committees voted to restore $2.8 million for treatment of 113 children with autism. Assemblywoman April Mastroluca, D-Henderson, said putting these children on a waiting list results in unacceptable damage to the children.

She said it costs more in the long run to care for the children when they become adults.

The governor had included money for 61 families with children who have autism, but there was not enough money for the other 113 who receive occupational, physical and speech therapies, and behavioral training.

Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said there has been “much progress” made in treating such children.

The committees also rejected the recommendation of the governor to reduce funding for the self-directed Family Support Programs that provide financial assistance to 230 low-income families with developmentally disabled children. The money goes to services such as speech, behavioral therapies, skill development and training.

The move would restore $550,875 each year to the budget.

The committees agreed with the governor’s recommendation to transfer to the counties the $10 million cost of another program to treat the developmentally disabled. County officials indicated they didn’t like the shift since it was one of several programs the state is shedding.

On mental health programs, Sandoval recommends a $230.3 million two-year budget, a 14.6 percent decrease. The governor suggested eliminating some senior psychiatrists and doctors, and use the savings to contract with private physicians.

Legislative staff said the division has had trouble filling the positions because of low salaries and the reluctance to work 40 hours a week. An audit found the state-hired physicians weren't putting in a full 40-hour week.

Leslie said she wasn't in favor of private contractors making a profit off state service but a new direction was needed for the sufficient treatment of patients.

Chairwoman Debbie Smith of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee said the hiring of outside psychiatrists and physicians has to be closely monitored to determine if there are long-term savings.

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  1. So again...no cuts. Full funding. Some compromise.

  2. Again the Governor does nothing - just sits around. Maybe he's at a party for big money? Could it be he's drinking wine again with the billionaires? Maybe he's planning his next campaign? Is he fiddling while Nevada burns? Is he eating and drinking - while looking out the window, telling his friends, "Let them eat cake!"

    Again the GOP legislatures sit around like lazy lumps - in denial, waiting for big money to tell them what to do. Some don't even try to stay awake while people testify - they just lay back and take a nap. Worse yet, some flat out say - you don't get it, we don't care. Wonder if they read the GOP memo, or if someone needs to come and whisper it in their ear right before they say NO, NO, NO, NO. Don't worry I believe you - you don't care and cannot problem solve for yourselves, so it probably is easier for the GOP to not engage in the process at all.

    Guess the sick and the old and the kids and the youth can all pay the bills. Wish the mining billionaires would pay their fair share, since they seem to be the only ones left in the state making billions and paying 1/2 a percent in taxes. Wouldn't we all like to deduct our housing, our insurance, everything we buy, and our salaries from our taxes. Mining does it. . . why can't we?

    Wonder when the Governor and his friends and ToddTaxPayer and Chuck Muth will realize that. . . there are other people in this state besides themselves?

  3. well actually it was not an agreement to do the same - it was an agreement that will hide tax increases by shifting them to local guvmints. Ok, so it would be an improvement in the mental health of Nevada if Sandogibbons were an honest man and resigned and maybe moved to Idaho - wouldn't wish him on California now that they no longer have pimp guvenator. Besides there are already enough goofy people in California - don't need another one.