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Philadelphia Officials Warn State Cuts Will Decimate Mental Health Services Here

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Nutter administration today put a dollar figure on the impact to the city of Governor Tom Corbett's proposed budget for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

And officials are warning of huge reductions in mental health services in the city.

Philadelphia finance director Rob Dubow, the mayor's top numbers cruncher, says the proposed state budget will cost the City of Philadelphia just under $41 million -- $40,944,000, to be exact.

The bulk of that is a $33-million cut in state funding to the city's Department of Behavioral Health, which could impact a variety of programs including those for the homeless.

And the Department of Human Services faces a $6½-million shortfall.

Dubow says  these areas are already stretched thin:

"The big issue for us is that we've been through years and years of cutting," Dubow tells KYW Newsradio.  "So every year there's less and less we can do to react to new cuts.  So these are very damaging cuts."

View the City of Philadelphia's Powerpoint presentation on the state budget cuts (.ppt format)

Dr. Donald Schwarz, the deputy mayor for health and opportunity, says he is worried on a number of fronts.

"Mental health services and support services for people who have intellectual disabilities are going to go away," he said. "This is a 20-percent cut to core funding for people who are very vulnerable.  And there isn't a way for the city to absorb that kind of cut.  The state is the one that is responsible for funding those services, so it's a big-deal cut."

Schwarz says he has "not seen anything like this before."  And Dubow points out that the $41 million in cuts is to the city's own budget: other cuts are coming to the school district, Community College of Philadelphia, and Temple University.

Read the KYW Regional Affairs Council report, "Princes & Paupers: The Income Gap At Work"

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