HARRISBURG — Eight years ago, as the state was still recovering from the fallout of a severe economic recession, lawmakers in Harrisburg cut $84 million that counties used to fund programs for people with intellectual disabilities, mental health challenges, and other needs.
At the time, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration said the state faced a more than $700 million shortfall and that funding for counties was one of the few areas where its hands weren’t tied by federal mandates.
That money was never restored. And in January, county officials urged lawmakers to provide a $42 million increase for mental health services as a downpayment for a sustainable approach, with a 3% annual increase.
Then the coronavirus arrived.
Now, lawmakers are once again facing a huge budget challenge — with a shortfall estimated at nearly $5 billion through June of next year — and county leaders worry they will cut programs that are needed now more than ever.
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