State Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Visits


On March 9, after one of the biggest snowstorms of the year, we were invited to attend and provide testimony at a public hearing on next year’s Michigan Department of Community Health budget. This is the state department which provides much of the funding for public mental health and substance abuse services in Michigan.

State Representative Gary McDowell, a Democrat from Rudyard in the Upper Peninsula, is chairman of the House Community Health Appropriations Subcommittee, and he held the public hearing (hosted by Munson Health Care) at the Hagerty Center in Traverse City.

Greg Paffhouse, Northern Lakes CMH Chief Executive Officer, and others were able to provide written and/or oral testimony on the effects of proposed budget cuts.

After the hearing, Traverse House Members did a fabulous job hosting Rep. McDowell on a visit to our Traverse House Clubhouse and Traverse City office.

Rep. McDowell spent a generous amount of time touring the facilities and talking with consumers and staff about services and key concerns. In addition, one of our consumers, who knows a lot about mental health insurance parity issues, was able to express his opinions on what should be included in any upcoming bills.

Another person, whose photobiography was “hot off the press,” was able to give a copy of her story to Rep. McDowell to take with him back to Lansing.

Chip Johnston, director of Manistee Benzie CMH, and Carol Stocking, Administrator of the 86th District Court, also joined in.

It was a valuable opportunity to learn, share and make connections. Thank you to everyone who participated!

We are pleased to report that yesterday morning, Rep. McDowell introduced a bill to the appropriations subcommittee which not only keeps mental health and substance abuse funding, but recommends a bit of an increase. While it is early in the budget process, we appreciate Rep. McDowell’s understanding of our issues and his willingness to make such a proposal. We’ll report back with updates as news breaks!