Rep. Marzian calls for more money for mental health care and training

05/03/2012 12:57 PM

Kentucky might have to increase revenue through taxes in order to cover its pension obligations to state employees and increase funding for mental health services, said state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville.

“It should have started 10 years ago that we start saying we are going to commit ourselves to making sure that folks with mental illness and substance abuse have services, have job training and have housing,” she said (0:40)

She said bolstering the services to the more than 800,000 Kentuckians with mental disabilities or substance abuse problems could save money in the long run by cutting down on incarceration and increase the number of productive tax paying workers.

“It’s something we can address that would maybe cost us a little money up front but would save us so much more money in the future,” said Marzian, a retired nurse. (1:00 of the interview).

But Kentucky already is cash-strapped. Marzian said the state must pay its obligation to the massively under-funded public employee pension system. The Kentucky Retirement System is only 30 percent funded and has unfunded liability of more than $28 billion dollars.

So where does the extra money come from? Marzian answers at 3:25 of the interview:

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