Bradford County Commissioner Ed Bustin this week was amongst the commissioners leading the charge to increase funding for mental health services not just in Bradford County, but for all counties throughout the Commonwealth.
Specifically, Bustin called for a $42 million increase in baseline funding for mental health services.
“Eight years ago, there was a 10 percent cut in that baseline funding. So what we’re asking for is get that money back,” he said. “We were also talking about increasing the funding 3 percent each year after that to get back to where we think we should be.”
Bustin was joined this week by Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh as the pair represented the County Commissioner Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) before the House Human Services Committee in Harrisburg. CCAP recently made mental health services funding its top priority in 2020.
Bustin explained that counties can currently receive funding a couple of different ways, but base funding was the most important in fulfilling Bradford County’s most specific needs.
“It helps us get education into the elementary and middle schools,” he said. “It would help our homeless population and especially those just getting out of jail who maybe don’t have many supports when they get out.”
Bustin added that mental health has been a major issue for him since he was first elected as a county commissioner.
“We believe that the best solutions for our communities on issues such as this sit in county government,” he said. “We’re very much a part of those communities. So to represent rural counties — for me it was little intimidating to talk about it before a House committee. I had never done that before. But I strongly believe in providing these services to the best of our potential, and I was honored to represent not just Bradford County, but all of the rural counties.
The commissioner noted that it was important for CCAP to meet with the committee and find solutions to best serve those in need of mental health services.
“I believe it was a worthwhile effort to meet with state government and have that seat at the table to work together to find solutions that will work for Bradford County and the other rural regions around the state,” Bustin said.