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Advocacy Groups Urge Funding For Food Banks, Domestic Violence Victims, Mental Health

FILE PHOTO: Brandon Smith
IPB News

Hoosiers got likely their last chance this session to testify on the new, two-year, $36 billion state budget Thursday.

Most of those who testified before a Senate panel on HB 1001 advocated for increased funding for various programs. That included more money for domestic violence programs, a bigger cigarette tax increase and increased funding for food banks.

Emily Weikert Bryant is the executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. She noted food banks haven’t received an increase in the state budget for more than a decade.

“Roughly 900,000 Hoosiers will be at risk of hunger this year – or one in seven Hoosiers who don’t know from where their next meal will come,” Bryant said.

READ MORE: How Do I Follow Indiana's Legislative Session? Here's Your Guide To Demystify The Process

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Matt Brooks is the president and CEO of the Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers. He said mental health and addiction services are being cut in the proposed budget.

“We can’t suddenly forget that we do have a mental health crisis in this state," Brooks said. "We do have an addiction crisis in this state. These issues are not going away.”

Senate Republicans will unveil their budget proposal next week.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.