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Mental Health Comish Urges for Funding (Feb 09, 2012)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma's mental health commissioner is urging legislative budget writers to increase funding to treat the thousands of people who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse in the state.

Terri White, commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, appeared before a House budget subcommittee on Thursday.

White says revenue cuts over the past three years have trimmed $36.5 million from her agency's budget, forcing the elimination of behavioral health and substance abuse treatment units.

White says about 245,000 Oklahomans struggle with drug abuse or addiction to alcohol or illegal drugs. She says cutting services to treat substance abuse and mental health leads to more taxpayer dollars being spent on law enforcement and incarceration.

State officials say next year's state budget is likely to be flat.

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