Brownback Turns Focus to Mental Health Reforms, Not Guns, in Wake of School Shootings

Brownback gesturesIn the wake of the school shootings in Connecticut, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback wants to focus on area improving the state’s mental health programs, not gun reform.
Brownback says since the Columbine school shootings more than a decade ago, each new incident produces “hand wringing”, but not much real solutions.
“Let’s get a serious discussion, a serious focus on this, rather than another hand wringing, and then, in another period of time we’re going to have another one,” Brownback said of the lack of progress solutions to mass shooting.
The Kansas Governor believes mental health reforms “is something I believe we can move forward on.” Brownback said during a news conference In Kansas City, Kansas announcing the programs.
Brownback is forming a task for of some of the state’s top mental health experts to look at the program.
He will also shift $10 million in existing mental health money into different areas.
$5 million will be focused on people who have serious mental health issues and often resist getting treatment the Governor said.
Often some of those people end up in the state’s jails or prisons.
Brownback says the Department of Corrections is the largest mental health provide in Kansas. More than a third of the 9,300 prison inmates are treated for mental health.
Another $5 million will go to re-work the network of 27 community mental health centers in Kansas.
The state will spend more than $430 million on mental health programs in the current budget.
Mental health advocates in Kansas, like others complains about deep budget cuts.
“’For the last several years, we have a seen a steady erosion”, said Susan Crain Lewis of Mental health America of the heartland.
Those cuts started before Brownback took office. Over the last five years more than $30 million have been cut from mental health budgets in Kansas.
Brownback was asked if there would be more money for the issue, if that is what is recommended by the mental health task force.
He says it depends on what the details of the recommendations.

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