ST PAUL, Minn. — On Thursday, June 2, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed into law a major investment in mental health services.
The $92.7 million omnibus budget bill includes funding for various mental health issues, including increased hospital bed capacity, expanded mental health services and more opportunities to support mental health professionals and staff.
Included in the bill is $30 million to establish services that treat and supervise people in the Minnesota criminal justice system that are found not competent to stand trial.
The bipartisan reforms were introduced in response to the KARE 11 investigative series "The Gap: Failure to Treat, Failure to Protect." The series was prompted by the case of Gregory Ulrich, who carried out a mass shooting at the Buffalo Allina Clinic in Feb. 2021.
Walz signed the bill on the same day Ulrich was found guilty of murder and other charges in connection to the attack, where he shot and killed Lindsay Overbay and wounded four others.
KARE 11’s year-long investigation found that there are thousands of cases in Minnesota involving people like Ulrich who were charged with a crime, found incompetent, and had their cases dismissed without court-ordered mental health treatment or oversight.
Prior to the shooting, Ulrich was charged for making threats to kill health care workers at the Buffalo clinic. However, those charges were dropped after Ulrich was found too mentally ill to stand trial. As a result, he went untreated and unsupervised before the shooting – and was legally able to obtain a gun.
The omnibus bill also includes nearly $13 million to support children experiencing mental health crises and establishes a "first episode of psychosis" grant program, provides another $11 million over three years for adult mental health initiative services, $9.6 million for mobile mental health crisis services and $4.1 million to fund grants and loan forgiveness opportunities for mental health professionals.
“Everyone deserves access to the mental health care that fits their needs, when they need it,” Walz said in a statement. “This omnibus bill is a bipartisan investment in the infrastructure of mental health services across the state so we can better reach young people and adults who may be experiencing crisis, as well as support the mental health providers working hard to address these needs. While this bill is a good step, there is more work to be done to ensure children and adults have access to the mental health services they need.”
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