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House Speaker says Senate GOP mental health plan needs ‘guardrails’

DES MOINES — House Speaker Pat Grassley says a Senate plan to have the state pay all costs and take over management of the mental health system from regional and county officials needs more work.

Senate Republicans want to shift financing of the system from county property taxes to state tax dollars.

“I can tell you from the House Republicans’ perspective, this conversation is a bigger conversation from just eliminating a (property tax) levy,” Grassley said during a news conference. “We really have to look at services — the inequity that may exist with services across the state, some regions offering more than others.”

Legislation passed in 2014 maintained county property taxes as the primary funding source for the mental health system, but created 14 regions in the state that counties joined to pool resources. Grassley said not all 14 regions provide the same level of service and the Senate GOP’s plan doesn’t provide enough details about how the state would manage the system, only how it would pay for it.

“In its current form with no guardrails, I don’t see even any interest in the House to even begin down that path,” Grassley said.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said Senate Republicans are “open to changes” and have been working with Governor Reynolds on improvements to their plan.

“Our goal is stable, reliable funding for mental health and property tax relief,” Whitver said in a written statement.

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