Gov. Moore proposes 'record funding' for addiction, mental health programs
Gov. Wes Moore on Wednesday unveiled his $63.1 billion budget for the 2025 fiscal year. While cutting some spending, the Democrat touted increased funding for addiction and mental health programs.
Addiction and mental health services in Maryland could see record-high funding in 2025 if Gov. Wes Moore’s proposed budget comes to fruition.
The Democrat on Wednesday unveiled his $63.1 billion budget proposal, which curbed spending to avoid a looming deficit. The governor, though, still fit in $1.4 billion in state aid to help those struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues.
“We are focused on four priorities,” Moore said Wednesday. “We will make Maryland safer. We will make Maryland more affordable. We will make Maryland more competitive. And we will continue to make Maryland the state that serves. And we can achieve each of these goals without raising taxes on Marylanders.”
If passed, the $1.4 billion in funding would include $482.8 million for substance use disorder services alone. That marks an increase of $57 million, or 14%, over the current fiscal year.
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The budget would also allocate $478 million to bridge the gap between the state’s uninsured population and services, and $5 million to provide grants to local behavioral health authorities.
The services include outpatient counseling; partial hospitalization; inpatient detoxification; and all levels of residential care, according to the state Department of Health.
If passed, the funding — which benefits both uninsured residents and those with Medicaid — would come as Maryland continues to see an increase in overdose deaths, a large portion of which occur in Baltimore.
Between January and June of last year, more than 2,500 residents died of drug overdoses, an increase of 1.8% over the year prior, according to the most recent data from the state Department of Health.
In addition, while Maryland’s suicide rates are some of the lowest in the nation, a report released by the department in 2020 showed they had been increasing steadily for years.
Moore’s proposal also includes $12 million to maintain the 988 mental health and suicide prevention helpline, $3 million in grant funding for county-level assisted outpatient treatment programs and $110 million to increase access to behavioral health services for students.
All of the funding comes despite the fact a lack of federal aid once provided for COVID-19 pandemic relief forced the state to tighten its purse strings.
To do this, the state altered its spending priorities through “rebasing,” a term used by Moore that effectively calls for spending cuts.
By reining in spending in certain areas for the upcoming fiscal year, the state would avoid any tax increases — a move that pleased Republicans in the Legislature.
Without doing so, the state would potentially face a $1.1 billion shortfall, according to budget documents. The governor’s proposal would create a surplus of about $103 million.
It would also reduce the structural deficit from $761 million to $502 million, a 34% decrease. The state would maintain $2.3 billion in its Rainy Day Fund.
The proposal will now be subject to review by members of the House and Senate. Both chambers must greenlight a budget for the governor to sign before the fiscal year begins on July 1.