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Northwest News Network

Mental Health Funding A Key Issue For Washington Budget Writers

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed several new mental health laws in recent days. The question is whether they will be funded.

Budget negotiations are going nowhere fast at the state capitol. In addition, a federal judge recently ruled Washington must provide competency services to jail inmates within seven days. The state has nine months to reduce jail wait times.

The state says it needs to do two things to start to bring these numbers down. It needs more evaluators and for the most part that means hiring psychiatrists and it’s not that easy to find psychiatrists who are going to come work for the state at the state pay and do this work.

The state says it also needs more psychiatric beds available at Western State and Eastern State hospitals.

Disability Rights Washington sued the state of Washington over jail wait times. It reported the problem has been cut in half since the trial. Even so, the state’s own wait list shows as of May 8, 19 jail inmates were awaiting an evaluation and all had been waiting for more than seven days.

Copyright 2015 Northwest News Network