On June 30, the Conference Committee released their Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) state budget recommendations, which were quickly approved and sent to the Governor’s desk. The Governor now has ten days to review and act on the budget before him.
The Conference budget includes important victories, including new investments in public health infrastructure that MPHA fought hard for! These include MPHA’s top priority line items for this year, Environmental Public Health Services and Health Care Quality.
Environmental Health – which includes food protection and indoor air quality, among other programs – will receive a roughly $1.1 million increase, and Health Care Quality – which supports inspections and licensure of health care facilities – will receive approximately $1.5 million over FY13 funding. These increases, along with a $1.1 million increase for the Board of Registration in Pharmacy, will allow for the hiring of additional inspectional and regulatory staff to address the serious shortfalls in inspectional capacity that currently exists due to years of dramatic budget cuts.
Not all the news is good news, however. Several areas are cut below the level needed to maintain current services, including the DPH Critical Operations line item (down roughly $300,000) and the State Lab (down roughly $100,000).
Further, Smoking Prevention and Cessation Services are cut by $180,000 from FY13, or about 5% of funding. After years of dramatic cuts to tobacco funding and in a year when a hike in the cigarette tax promises to bring in millions more in tobacco revenue, this cut is particularly troubling.
Lastly, several important policy items attached to earlier versions of the budget were not included in the final budget, including sensible cigar packaging and pricing requirements and a provision to make permanent a successful financing program for pediatric immunizations which is currently in place under year-to-year provisions.
DPH state funding comes in at just above $364 million for community-based programs and $550 million including hospital programs. For community programs overall, this is a maintenance budget, providing increased funds over FY13 to keep pace with the rising cost of services, but not increasing the overall service level.
While the FY14 budget contains several important gaps that we would like to see addressed in the coming year, we are pleased that funding is proposed to fill dangerous regulatory and inspectional gaps that exist due to years of steep budget cuts. We want to thank the Senate and House leadership for putting forth a budget that addresses these core public health needs.
We would also like to thank our legislative champions who worked hard to ensure public health funding was a priority during the budget debate over the last 6 months: Representatives Jason Lewis, Ted Speliotis, Steven Walsh, Jeff Sánchez, Jon Hecht, Denise Garlick, and Frank Smizik, and Senators John Keenan, Richard Moore, Ken Donnelly, and Cynthia Stone Creem.
For more information or questions about other DPH line items, please contact Maddie Ribble at firstname.lastname@example.org.