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Originally published: 2012-08-16 10:23:43
Last modified: 2012-08-16 10:23:43

State's mistake bitter pill for health providers

With a state budget of about $20 billion, it might seem reasonable that a few million dollars here or there could be misplaced.

It's not.

It's not reasonable that more than $4 million in funding for one of our state's most vulnerable populations -- those people with mental illness or disability -- was accidentally cut from mental health services.

In the budget that eventually became law, legislators say their original intention was to transfer $4.3 million statewide from mental health to the Department of Social Services for guardianship services -- a noble and most likely necessary maneuver.

What wasn't necessary was mistakenly moving that funding twice, in effect reducing the budget for mental health services by double the intended amount.

What wasn't noble was lawmakers not noticing the problem until the end of session and allowing it to slip into the budget.

State budgets are not like the household budgets you and I devise. If we one month mistakenly rob Peter to pay Paul, or move a car payment into a mortgage account, it doesn't require an act of legislation to redirect the funds.

Life is not so simple in Raleigh.

But simple or not, the noble and necessary thing now is to reverse these funds at the state level. The mental health service providers for which thousands depend have been saddled with upcoming funding cuts from multiple and myriad sources -- forcing a mistake upon struggling health providers is bad medicine for our state.