The Utah State Legislature is charged not only with passing state laws, but also balancing our budget and selecting which appropriation requests will get funding. Funding decisions must weigh the current and future needs of our state, taking into consideration the importance of investing in our future for better outcomes ahead. Budget priorities have been decided by the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee. But now it will be up to the Executive Appropriations Committee to make final budget priorities. NOW is the time to contact legislators about funding decisions!
Two important bills propose investments to improve outcomes for Utahns in housing and mental health. Funding has been prioritized by the subcommittee. Contact legislators on the Executive Appropriations Committee to prioritize funding for these two important bills TODAY!
THE ISSUE: HOUSING
Utah is experiencing a 54,000 unit shortage on affordable housing. Building new housing takes time and requires up front investments that pay off in better health, education, addiction and career outcomes for Utahns.
SB 39 Affordable Housing Amendments by Sen. Jake Anderegg (R-Lehi) appropriates an additional $20 million for the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund to create more affordable housing units (approximately 2300 units) and $15 million ongoing to the Department of Workforce Services for rental assistance for families on the brink of homelessness. This bill was developed through the Commission on Housing Affordability at DWS and was recommended by the Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee.
THE ISSUE: MENTAL HEALTH
In Sept 2019, the Kem C. Gardner Institute and Utah Hospital Association issued a joint report on Utah’s Mental Health System which showed that, while over 100,000 Utahns have a serious mental illness, Utah is last in the nation for mental health services. Population growth and a high rate of suicide compound the problem.
HB 32 Crisis Services Amendments by Rep. Steve Eliason (R-Sandy) creates new mental health resources within the state, including expanded mobile crisis outreach teams (MCOTs), a health receiving center pilot program and a state-wide peer support line with appropriated funds. HB 32 also directs the Department of Health to apply for a Medicaid waiver that would reimburse certain inpatient treatments. The Health and Human Services Interim Committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill. But this good bill won’t ultimately pass if it does not receive funding.
Every. Action. Counts. Taking two minutes to write an email to legislators can make a huge difference! Thanks for taking action.