Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) is advocating for a special appropriation of $9 million for community mental health programs. 

During the 2019 Legislative Session, the Legislature cut $15 million from community mental health programs in the Oregon Health Authority’s budget, the reduction triggered by forecasted caseloads of civil commitment services. In reaction to county advocacy efforts, the Legislature restored $6 million of this funding in the final days of Session and adopted a budget note that created a workgroup to study caseload forecast discrepancies. The budget note set aside a special appropriation of $9 million that could be used to fully restore the original $15 million cut.

The workgroup has explored several issues with the forecasting model, and is continuing to assess the need for additional research to ensure all populations and all needed services are being captured. AOC sits on the workgroup. In the meantime, advocates are asking for release of the $9 million.

In a letter submitted to members of the joint committee on ways and means subcommittee on human services last week, AOC Legislative Affairs Manager, Andy Smith noted, “release of this $9 million will help restore critical safety net services for individuals suffering from serious mental health issues who are at risk of civil commitment, justice system involvement, homelessness, and potential placement in the Oregon State Hospital (OSH).”

Further discussion on the special appropriation is expected in the ways and means committee before the end of the 2020 Legislative Session.

For questions about the scope of the workgroup, or the request, contact Andy Smith.

Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate