Saturday, February 10, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, February 10, 2001

Felix funding delay could save state money, Cayetano says

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau Chief

State House leaders who are stalling a $137 million emergency bill to pay the costs of the mental health services for children just might be able to save the state some money, Gov. Ben Cayetano said yesterday.

Cayetano said delaying the measure to pay for mental health services for special education children might anger U.S. District Judge David Ezra, but "that’s a risk that they take."

"I met with the House leadership and I told them I agreed that they should put some pressure on and scrutinize the appropriations that have been made," Cayetano said.

Last year Ezra found the state in contempt of court for failing to improve special education services as Ezra had ordered in 1994. The departments face a new deadline in December to meet Ezra’s demands and terms of the Felix consent decree in federal court.

The state Departments of Education and Health are seeking $137 million in emergency money to provide mental health services for the last five months of this year.

Some House leaders are balking at the request, pointing out the departments already were given $240 million this year to provide mental health services required by the Felix consent decree.

Cayetano said legislators are partly concerned the state is providing services that aren’t being required by the court.

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