Gov. Butch Otter has issued a statement today lauding lawmakers for approving funding for a new mental health crisis center in North Idaho next year, saying he signed the budget bill, HB 264, into law today.
“As I said in my State of the State address in January, this is part of a sustainable, long-term commitment to helping our communities better address the financial and public safety challenges posed by drug and alcohol abuse or individuals’ mental health problems,” Otter said. “I’m grateful to the Legislature for recognizing as I have that it is less expensive and does more good when citizens experiencing these crises have somewhere to go other than our hospital emergency rooms or local jail cells.”
Otter noted that HB 264 passed the Senate unanimously, and passed the House on a 58-9 vote. “In the long run it costs much more to lock people up or warehouse them somewhere when life’s challenges become overwhelming,” he said. “Our goal is to address these crises as close to home as possible and restore our neighbors, our friends and our family members to their full, productive potential.”
The governor said he hopes eventually to establish mental health crisis centers in each of Idaho’s seven Health & Welfare regions; last year, the first one opened in Idaho Falls.