EDITORIAL:

First our schools and city government, now mental health services. In what was the latest stark example of how the state fiscal crisis can hit home, VMHCare, Glendale’s largest mental health provider, this week announced that it had laid off more than 10% of its staff because of state and county funding cuts.

Beyond the loss of local jobs, the center can no longer afford to provide care to the uninsured, and at least 80 patients will have to be discharged in coming days as administrators grapple with a 20% funding cut from the county, which disburses state money to regional providers.

Our school system and community college are already coping with millions in lost state funding, but VMHCare’s woes are the latest reminder that the failure to make some tough voter decisions in May regarding California’s failed budget financing formula will continue to have very real social consequences.

VMHCare relies on government funding for about 94% of its budget, so, just like the education system, its fiscal situation serves a true reflection of just how bad things are in Sacramento.

Opponents to the state budget propositions argued it wasn’t their job to bail out poor fiscal management of lawmakers, but now, communities are faced with the alternative in the form of eviscerated public and social services.

At what point does a community like ours allow it to go on? At what point do we push back against larger class sizes, higher college fees or fewer health services? We have to believe that these are questions that we wouldn’t have to consider had voters just bucked up in a more collective way and passed the budget propositions.

As VMHCare Chief Executive Jeff Smith said, “Some will walk the streets of Glendale without getting any services. It will be a problem for law enforcement and local hospitals. [The state] may be saving money right now, but it will cost them in the long run.”

Certainly, logic that was lost May 19.


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