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Lawmakers fight for full funding of mental health focused bill

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Posted at 11:20 PM, Apr 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-20 09:51:34-04

INDIANAPOLIS — "I've been consistent. I've been speaking the same language for a decade now," said Senator Michael Crider.

A bill with support from both the Senate and House has reached another hurdle to getting full funding.

Senate Bill 1 (SB1) would establish a statewide crisis response system to support Hoosiers going through a mental health or substance abuse crisis.

SB1, a bill that supporters say will set the state up with a way to save more lives. However, approving the full funding it will take to address mental health needs in the Hoosier state is a battle that is far from over.

"I think funding is always the hardest part when you start talking about changing the way we deliver services," said Crider.

It's been a long-fought battle getting lawmakers to approve full funding to support SB1.

"The delivery model that we're using now is something that has been in place since John Kennedy was president," said Crider.

This is a model that will now require roughly $130-million-dollars annually to address mental health in the Hoosier state.

"As of today, only $35-million-dollars has been committed," said Rev. Timothy Murphy, senior pastor at Plymouth Church.

That is about 15% of the full funding needed to support SB1. That doesn't even scratch the surface of what it will take to establish a statewide crisis response system for Hoosiers to access three things.

"A number to call, 988, when someone is in crisis. A person to come, a mental health expert. And then a place to go in a crisis center," said Murphy.

Senator Crider said his main goal is to ensure they have a stable funding stream for SB1 that won't be threatened in future budget cycles.

"I think there's a lot of will fund the bill. It's the mechanism that we'll use to fund it is in question," said Crider.

So far, the house has discussed increasing cigarette and alcohol taxes to help with full funding.

"This is one of those situations where we're going to have to make the investment and become a mature system," said Crider.

"We as a state tend not to invest in the well-being of our people," said Andre Stoner with Faith in Indiana.

Faith In Indiana have supported SB1 since the beginning. Supporters said after the bill passed in the senate and house, it's now time for lawmakers to show action.

WRTV’s Amber Grigley asked Stoner, “What if they meet back and say they cannot approve any more funding?"

Crider said, “That's just the story we're going to have to tell. Are we a state that cares, do we have budgets that care, or are we a state that gives corporate tax breaks and doesn't really care about its people. That's the story we'll have to tell."

"We've done the work and we've gotten ourselves in position if there ever were a chance, I think the chance is this year," said Crider.

Senator Crider tells Amber that the final budget proposal will come out this Wednesday. He's optimistic but knows that negotiations from both the senate and house will take place to reach a decision on SB1.