The Pennsylvania House of Representatives connected Wednesday passed a measure to administer $100 cardinal of national COVID-19 alleviation backing to wage for big intelligence wellness services.
The bill, which passed by a 173-30 vote, present goes to the authorities Senate for consideration.
The wealth from the American Rescue Plan Act was described by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh County, arsenic “both ample and small” due to the fact that portion the dollar magnitude is large, determination is simply a tremendous request for intelligence wellness attraction crossed the commonwealth.
The funding, which was included successful past year’s fund bundle but not spent, volition beryllium divided among assistance programs successful workforce development, services and supports and transgression justness and nationalist safety.
Background: Last year, erstwhile Republicans had a bulk successful the House and Senate, the allocation of the $100 cardinal successful national dollars was approved. A 24-person bipartisan Behavioral Health Commission was established to marque recommendations connected however that wealth should beryllium spent. The committee comprising legislators, instrumentality enforcement, societal workers and psychologists didn’t implicit its enactment until aft the legislative league ended past year.
According to the bill, the backing from the American Rescue Plan indispensable beryllium allocated by July 1, 2024, and spent by December 31, 2026.
What’s successful the bill: Schlossberg said the fig 1 contented helium consistently hears astir successful the intelligence wellness tract is workforce retention.
His bill, House Bill 849, volition allocate $34 cardinal to retaining workers, with grants for training, recruiting, retention strategies and pupil indebtedness repayment assistance for individuals employed arsenic intelligence wellness workers successful region jails and authorities prisons. It would administer that wealth done the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency successful the signifier of tuition assistance, internships, residencies and fellowships for individuals pursuing degrees oregon certifications successful the intelligence wellness field. Grant recipients would beryllium required to enactment successful the commonwealth for astatine slightest 3 years upon completion of their program.
Some $31.5 cardinal of the backing would beryllium earmarked for competitory grants for transgression justness and nationalist information programs. This includes weapon unit prevention, intelligence wellness and substance usage upset treatment, archetypal responder situation involution grooming and pre-arrest diversion programs, among others. It besides would guarantee each region intelligence wellness medication would person astatine slightest $20,000 for intelligence wellness and substance usage upset services.
Last week, the County Commissioners’ Association of Pennsylvania held a Capitol astir the underfunding of intelligence wellness services successful counties crossed the commonwealth.
The remaining $34.5 cardinal would beryllium directed to ensuring the stableness and enlargement of intelligence wellness services. Of that money, $18 cardinal volition solely beryllium awarded to county-provider partnerships that enactment connected situation attraction patients, specified arsenic termination prevention. The remainder would spell to cause and intoxicant programs.
What radical said: Schlossberg said the measure does not “exist successful isolation,” and that done the governor’s fund and different legislation, $100 cardinal could beryllium allotted for children’s intelligence wellness and $20 cardinal whitethorn spell to region intelligence wellness services.
The measure didn’t walk without criticism. Rep. Dawn Keefer, R-York County, said successful her level remarks that the wealth volition beryllium “eaten up by bureaucracy” if it’s distributed utilizing a assistance system.
“Our counties volition person to travel backmost and vie for these dollars,” Keefer said. “Those with the champion assistance writers and lobbyists volition win.”
Schlossberg called the remark “disingenuous,” speaking to reporters aft the session. He said pushing the betterment wealth done arsenic a artifact assistance was supported by some caucuses and noted lone 30 representatives, each Republicans, voted against the bill.
In assistance form, Schlossberg said, the wealth could beryllium steered to aggregate organizations progressive successful intelligence wellness specified arsenic instrumentality enforcement and nonprofits arsenic opposed to strict guidelines for fewer recipients.
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