Proposal would replenish previously gutted budget for Burke Center

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A new state budget plan for public schools and mental health services is headed to the senate.

Wednesday, the senate finance committee approved their version of the new budget, which includes a more than seven percent increase over what the state is currently spending.

"About $240 million go into mental health care in the state of Texas, which is great news," said Micaela Fitzgerald, the service director at the Burke Center. "We would still rank probably toward the bottom in the list between the 50 states but we would be grateful for that extra funding."

The mental health care service increase of more than 7 percent will also aid existing clients and the current wait list of 250 adults.

"Budget cuts require us to tighten the belt a little bit," Fitzgerald said. "You know, we have to become more efficient if that is possible."

For close to 40 years, the center has worked to improve the lives of those with mental illnesses.

The staff is always looking to help more East Texans by expanding behavioral care services.

"Maybe even look at the more rural areas having you know a satellite clinic set up or providing the services we already provide to more people," Fitzgerald said.

And with a new budget plan, Lufkin could see a positive domino affect of less crime, violence and drugs and a decrease in homelessness.

"The more stable and productive individuals in your community are, then the community benefits, so I think the Burke Center can really help in that area," Fitzgerald said. "We're a community you know so to better the life of one person helps out the whole community."

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