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Gov. Walker touts new mental health initiatives in budget proposal


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Governor Scott Walker says the new mental health initiatives in his proposed state budget will improve public safety, after last year’s mass shootings in both Wisconsin and the nation.

But the Republican Walker said his package goes beyond the criminal element – and he wants to end the social stigma of seeking help.

The Republican Walker said Wednesday he would include almost $29 million in his two-year budget package for new and expanded mental health services.

He said it would go to a variety of programs to help families and foster kids, deal with substance abuse, and provide more inpatient units at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison, plus respite centers as alternatives to hospitalization.

Walker said his package would also bring in just over $7 million more from the federal government.

Also Wednesday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he was creating a task force to make recommendations for improving mental health services. Vos said his group would work closely with the governor on his plans – and they plan issue their suggestions by the end of May.