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Legislative leaders say both chambers' mental health priorities will get funded

Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray speak with Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush, left on the House floor. Huston and Bray are White men with dark, graying hair, wearing suits. Rush is a White woman with brunette hair, wearing black judicial robes.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers), center, and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville), right, speak with Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush, left on the House floor prior to the State of the State address on Jan. 10, 2023.

The Indiana House and Senate are advancing each other’s mental health treatment priority bills this session. And chamber leaders say providing funding for both will be part of the final budget bill.

The Senate’s major mental health bill, SB 1, focuses on boosting resources for community mental health centers and the 988 crisis hotline. The House’s bill, HB 1006, is aimed at diverting people with mental health challenges from local jails into treatment.

Neither bill has any funding in it – that will come from the state budget. The House GOP’s proposed budget funded their criminal justice mental health initiative and didn’t touch the Senate’s.

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said his caucus wanted to give the Senate a chance to plant their flag on their own priority before final negotiations.

“We will do both," Huston said. "It’s important that we do both.”

READ MORE: Hundreds rally to call on lawmakers to fully fund bill to create mental health crisis response system

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Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) said the caucuses may disagree on a total spending number and funding method, but he’s confident both priorities will have resources in the state budget.

Whatever that number is will likely be far short of what advocates want.

The Senate originally included $30 million in their bill for community mental health centers and the 988 hotline. The House budget spent $10 million on grants to support treatment for people who are incarcerated, as well as a few million more on child behavioral health services and increased reimbursement for group homes.

Mental health treatment advocates point to a recent Indiana Behavioral Health Commission report for a needed funding number of $130 million.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.