Lawmakers eye vote on behavioral health hospital funding

The Texas Legislature will likely vote this weekend on a Conference Committee Report that includes several key allocations for West Texas for a behavioral health center, rural health initiatives and the creation of a mental health workforce.

Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, said the report for the 2023-2025 biennium is a document that has been negotiated between the House and Senate to iron out differences between the House’s version of the bill and the Senate’s.

In this case, the report is what they will vote on in terms of the “final” version of the state budget.

“The state budget has not been finalized, but I expect that it will be voted on this weekend. I look forward to voting for the proposed budget, which is balanced and doesn’t raise taxes on Texans,” Landgraf said in an email.

“Importantly, the proposed budget includes key funds for West Texas that I proudly advocated for: $86.7 million for the new Permian Basin mental health hospital; $6 million of new, additional funds for UTPB, $10 million for telehealth service through our local Texas Tech medical school, and enough transportation funding to continue our record-breaking pace of building up our infrastructure in West Texas,” he added.

“Lastly, I’m also working down to the last-minute to get additional funding for raises for our exceptional teachers, as well as for school safety,” Landgraf said.

A news release from Midland Republican Rep. Tom Craddick’s office said West Texas has a dire need for quality mental healthcare and the $86.7 million will essentially double the number of beds that have already been funded for the Permian Basin Behavioral Health Center, which broke ground April 28.

The center will now be a 200-bed facility.

According to Craddick’s release, the funding for UTPB will help strengthen the quality of health workforce education and enhance the skills of Permian Basin healthcare workers, including those in the existing nursing and counseling programs.

Midland College will receive $1,750,000 to create a mental health workforce training program.

The report also includes $15 million for Rural Health Initiatives, the release from Craddick’s office said.

“West Texas is in need of quality healthcare and this funding helps increase access to care and the challenges presented in rural Texas. This effort will be lead by the Texas A&M Health Sciences Center in Martin and Dawson counties,” the release said.