VENTURA COUNTY: Supervisors Vote to Open Budget Shifting Process
In a "bittersweet" victory for mental health advocates in Ventura County, county supervisors unanimously voted yesterday to require public meetings each time monies from the mental health budget are shifted to other departments, the Los Angeles Times reports. Criticized by the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill for its closed-door shifting of millions of dollars from the mental health budget to other departments during its annual budget meeting, the board agreed to make the process more open. Each time officials consider transferring mental health funds, they will notify members of the Ventura County Mental Health Board, detail the plans in the annual budget report and post the proposed funding shifts for public hearings. The county can shift up to 10% of state funds earmarked for mental health each year to other departments, and the county has done so since 1991 with little public scrutiny, the Times reports. Although alliance member Carol Luppino praised the policy change, she nonetheless lamented that the "bottom line is that mental health is still losing a lot of money. After the discussion and after all the disclosure, we're still losing money. They can legally take 10%, but morally it's wrong." The board voted Tuesday to redirect $1.2 million in mental health-related funds to the county's health agency (Johnson, 5/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.