House Bill 1040 passed the Senate today. The bill’s intention is to fulfill North Dakota’s unmet behavioral health needs, including early intervention behavioral health services for children, and peer-to-peer and family-to-family support programs.
The bill also had $7 million in state (with $7 million in matching) for children and youth with severe mental health problems. The interim committee identified 3,800 children and youth for whom this funding was intended. All of this funding was cut out of the final version of the bill.
When the bill was first introduced earlier in the legislative session, it recommended $16 million in state funding for that state’s behavioral health needs, and would have captured an additional $12 million in federal funding. After several changes were made through conference committees, the bill finally passed containing only $350,000 in total funding.
Representative Karla Hanson spoke against the bill’s current, and now passed language on the House floor yesterday evening.
Rep. Hanson (D): “My concern with this bill is that it is another broken promise. The families of North Dakota deserve better. We do need to cut budgets during this session, but we should be making smart cuts. We already know that proven programs like peer-to-peer support work and are a cost-effective way to help those who are struggling. And we also know it’s effective because it will cost taxpayers less in the long run. By investing in these programs now, it helps us avoid costly medical treatment down the road as well as less cost for law enforcement and criminal justice. Undoubtedly, it will help avoid the ultimate cost of lost lives.”