TDMHSAS Statement on Governor Lee's FY21 Budget Proposal

Message from Commissioner Marie Williams
Tuesday, February 04, 2020 | 03:09pm

Dear Friends and Partners,

You’ve heard the wise words—without a vision, the people shall perish.  Well, I’m emailing you today to share the legendary vision that our governor has for our services and for the Tennesseans who so desperately need them.

You’ll remember during our budget presentation back in December, Governor Lee and his team readily received our proposal to add services, increase existing programs through community behavioral health providers, and reinforce prior years’ investments with additional supports and staffing.  On top of that, the governor is proposing a budget that will truly result in transformational and generational change for the lives that we touch.  In all, Governor Lee’s FY21 budget proposal includes nearly $33 million in new funding for our department.  Please see the one-pager at this link with detail on all of the proposed increases for FY21.

Here are a few key themes and highlights of Governor Lee’s proposed FY21 budget for TDMHSAS:

Services for Children and Youth

For certain populations in the state, their coordination of care and linkage to further community behavioral health supports is vital to continued success.  The governor and his team accepted our proposals to extend Behavioral Health Safety Net services to about 5,000 uninsured children and to extend School-Based Behavioral Health Liaison services to all 95 counties.  To these proven programs, they are proposing the creation of a $250,000,000 trust fund for K-12 Mental Health.  The fund will be a permanent, protected trust fund to serve Tennessee students. This will be managed by the State Treasurer and allow the funds to avoid the ebbs and flows of funding availability.  We are excited to work with the Department of Education and stakeholders and partners across the state to execute an analysis of needs in each individual school district. Earnings from the fund will be distributed based on the results of that analysis and will focus on establishing treatment and supports.

Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery Services

The governor and his team accepted our proposal to add $6,000,000 recurring state dollars to expand access to substance abuse treatment services for uninsured and underinsured living with substance use disorders.  They decided to quadruple the amount we proposed to add to the Addiction Recovery Program for a total of $4,000,000 for wrap-around recovery services.

Criminal Justice Services

In the area of criminal justice services, the governor and his team added $4,687,500 for statewide residential recovery courts which will create 2 new residential recovery courts.  The governor and his team also accepted our $625,000 proposal to expand Criminal Justice Liaisons to every county in Tennessee. And in the area of housing, the governor and his team are proposing an investment of $3,583,400 for the Creating Homes Initiative to expand housing options for individuals who are getting out of jail or prison and struggling with behavioral health issues.

Crisis Services

To account for the increase in mobile crisis calls for both adults and children and youth in recent years, the governor and his team have accepted our proposed increase for $354,300 for Mobile Crisis Services.  Separate, complementary budget items relating to crisis services are included in the governor’s proposal for $3,131,400 to TennCare for Master's level therapists providing Comprehensive Child and Family Treatment (CCFT) and to increase funding for children and youth crisis services and $3,453,800 to DIDD for regional crisis teams to provide treatment for people with intellectual disabilities and severe, co-occurring behavioral health needs.

Other Critical Investments

On top of all of this, the governor and his team are proposing investments in Individual Placement and Support Supported Employment, System of Care Across Tennessee, Naltrexone, key staffing, and ongoing maintenance for department facilities.

As you know, we will work the governor’s budget proposal through the legislative process with subsequent presentations and hearings.  We are so grateful to have a legislature that supports the work we do and is interested in meeting the service needs of Tennesseans living with mental health and substance use concerns.

I want to close this message with a restated expression of my team’s personal gratitude.  We are grateful to each of you – whether you’re a state employee, a community behavioral health provider, a consumer, a family member, or an advocate – your teamwork, collaboration, and partnership is the reason we’re in the position where Governor Lee and his team feel comfortable making this kind of investment in what we all do and believe in.  May we continue to move the needle to increase access to services and build resiliency, recovery, and independence for Tennesseans struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues.

Thank you,

Marie Williams
Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services