Governor Corbett’s Proposed Budget Makes Drastic, Sweeping Changes to Mental Health System






Promises Made/Promises Broken 

As a gubernatorial candidate, Tom Corbett promised to help Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens, including individuals with mental illness and/or facing challenges of addiction. A year into his term, Governor Corbett has broken this promise in drastic and devastating ways. His 2012-2013 budget recommends the most significant changes and cuts to the community mental health system since its inception more than 50 years ago. Below is a detailed list of the Governor’s promises made and broken, the impact of which will be:

  • The state backing out of its long-term commitment to ensure that persons with mental illness receive needed levels of services and supports.
  • More people with mental illness ending up in in-patient psychiatric units or state hospitals—all at greater cost to the taxpayer.
  • An increase in homelessness among people with mental illness.
  • Increased risk of incarceration when services and supports for people who now live successfully in the community are reduced or eliminated.
  • Less available funding for the expansion of mental health courts, which have been demonstrated to be an effective method of redirecting persons away from inappropriate incarceration and toward successful reintegration into the community.

Promises Broken – Community Mental Health System

The Governor’s budget recommends:

  • $110 million dollar reduction to community mental health services
  • An additional $12.6 million reduction to the Behavioral Health Services Initiative (BHSI) and the Act 152 Drug and Alcohol Program
  • A change in the administration of Community Mental Health funding – after the 20% cut, the remaining funds are put into a Human Services Development Fund Block Grant to county government. The behavioral health funding accounts for 73% of the proposed block grant total and yet there is NO commitment to ensure that counties will spend that 73% on persons with mental illness or substance abuse issues.

In addition, the budget proposes to eliminate General Assistance (GA) cash assistance and slash funding for GA-related Medical Assistance.  General Assistance is a last-resort program providing extremely meager benefits to 68,000 Pennsylvanians with no income.  Mental health and substance use disorder clients/consumers are approximately 30% of the users of this crucial benefit.  It remains unclear how the rules are going to be applied that will result in the projected savings.

The GA cuts coupled with the reductions to mental health and substance use dollars will eliminate the safety net for thousands of vulnerable people.

Promises Broken – CHIPPs Funding

As PA has successfully closed state hospitals, every Governor since Governor Casey promised local communities that the sins of the 60’s and deinstitutionalization would not be repeated.  Pennsylvania has been a leader in its commitment to closing state hospitals and offering a real opportunity to individuals to live full lives in the community. State hospital dollars, or CHIPPS funding, follows the individual into the community and supports their recovery and those who might have gone to the hospital.

Since 1990, NO ADMINISTRATION has reduced the CHIPPs funding promised to the communities until now.  Governor Corbett cuts the funding by 20% , which will likely result in a return to the problems of the 1960’s deinstitutionalization, including an increase in jail population, homelessness, use of emergency rooms and a return to more costly inpatient treatment.

Promises Made/Promises Broken – Transparency and “Nothing About Us Without Us”

Candidate Tom Corbett promised a transparent and open government.  Essential to the success of the community mental health and substance abuse systems is the commitment to the motto “nothing about us without us.”  Transparency, input, oversight and feedback by those who need and experience treatment, their families, advocates, and providers are essential to a successful mental health system.

In reality, Governor Corbett is setting into motion the biggest system change in over 40 years with NO input, NO feedback, and NO oversight by those impacted by the change. The law that has governed the mental health system for over 40 years will no longer be in effect.  

Take Action NOW – Contact your legislators and tell them to:

  • Oppose the Block Grant
  • Oppose the 20% Cut
  • Oppose the 20% cut to CHIPP funding
  • Restore GA benefits

These cuts must be restored.  The block grant is wrong and should be stopped.  Promises made to consumers and to communities must be kept.  The proposal for massive cuts must be rejected.

To find your legislator, click here.

Click here for talking points for communicating to your legislator. Click here for a downloadable list of all of Governor Corbett’s broken promises.

Let know us what you have done – visits and calls made to legislators. Email a description of your actions to Sue Walther, executive director, MHAPA, at

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