In keeping with our commitment to protect the most vulnerable, this budget will improve the care for those with serious mental illness. While a number of negotiated reforms were unfortunately killed at the last minute in the House, some key aspects of my legislation to reform our mental health system remain.
This budget adds $100 million to our mental health investments. It makes the salaries of employees at Western State Hospital more competitive and begins the transformation of the hospital so that it focuses more exclusively on forensic patients who have been criminally committed and invests in community-based mental health options for other patients. Six new crisis walk-in centers are funded at locations throughout the state (including Pierce County), and there are nearly 300 additional beds for long-term care patients.
Care will be delivered closer to the communities in which patients live, so that they can be closer to their own network of friends and family that give them added support. There are further investments in supports like clubhouses and subsidized housing that will better enable patients to function and increase the ease of treatment before more expensive options become necessary.
It is a solid first step toward this state living up to its responsibility to care for the most vulnerable among us. I intend to continue my efforts to improve state care for the kids in the system and the most vulnerable among us.