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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Predicted revenue shortfall a concern for Horizons Mental Health

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  • A shortfall in expected state revenues and an increase in expenses have Horizons Mental Health concerned about cuts to human services in Kansas.
    The latest estimates are that the projected revenues for the State of Kansas are going to fall $26 million short of that estimate.
    This comes at a time when Horizons Mental Health has seen increase in expenses of $34,000 over last year, said Michael Garrett, Horizons Mental Health CEO.
    The Legislature passed a two-year budget plan that covers funding through 2014-2015. Right now, Garrett said he was not aware of any budget cuts for the current fiscal year.
    However, if revenues are less than expected, it could result in legislative budget cuts. Unlike the federal government, state governments can't spend money they don't have. The legislature may be forced to rework the current fiscal year budget and that could also impact the budget for the next fiscal year, Garrett said.
    In Kansas, education gets the lion's share of the budget with 62 percent going to education at all levels including higher education, Garrett said.
    If cuts have to be made, it would be most likely that education would see cuts.
    Human services, including mental health services, get the next biggest portion of the pie with 26 percent of the budget. If funding is cut, human services would probably get cut as well and that could impact what Horizons Mental Health could provide to communities across the state.
    "We're just faced with a lot of unknowns right now," Garrett said.
    Part of the shortfall in revenue came from some tax cuts at the state level. Without those taxes, some areas will not get funded as expected.
    "I'm not sure tax cuts were the wise thing to do," Garrett said.
    If cuts come and Horizons has to cut back on services, it will have a ripple effect on other health care facilities.
    It could produce an increase in emergency room visits, as well as more people getting arrested because their mental health issues are not being addressed.
    It could also create an increase in the number of people considered for admittance to state hospitals but they are already at over capacity so sending patience to the Larned and Osawatomie facilities might not be possible.
    For now, Horizons and other human services in Kansas, will continue to function as they watch Topeka for legislative action on the budget.
    "We'll know a lot more in February," Garrett said.
    Even while they are waiting to learn how state revenues will impact their operations, Horizons is in the midst of seeking a new board member to fill out a 14-member board of directors. Susan Lynch is coming to the end of her second term. Each board member is allowed two 3-year terms.
    Page 2 of 2 - Horizons Mental Health serves a five-county area including Pratt, Barber, Harper, Kingman and Reno counties.

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