Oklahoma Mental Health Advocate Fears Budget Deficit Fallout

Friday, February 12th 2016, 5:40 pm
By: News 9

The state budget crisis just keeps going from bad to worse. This week, we learned revenues for January are 17% lower than expected, and the budget deficit has risen to $1.3 billion dollars. Now state agencies are bracing for cuts.

Augusta Cox works full time and goes to college. She also lives with paranoid schizophrenia, and when not properly medicated, she hears voices in her head. 

“They’re both male and female voices. I had a woman screeching in my ear. Just screeching,” said Cox. “And she’d make me rhyme with her.  So, she would say dog and I would say fog. She would say cat and I would say bat.”

Needless to say, Cox wouldn’t be able to hold down a job or hold a conversation without treatment. 

“When you’re hearing voices it’s very isolating. But you can’t have conversations with other people because you’ve got conversations constantly going on in your head,” continued Cox.

Cox is afraid more cuts to the state’s already bare bones mental health agencies, will mean more people won’t get the treatment they need.

Senator Kyle Loveless (R) District 45 said this is a budget crisis, and there will be cuts.

“Does that mean some people are going to be laid off? Does that mean we’re going to have voluntary buyouts of people? Yes,” said Loveless. “But we really have to focus on the core functions of government.” 

Those core functions, Loveless said, include education; corrections, infrastructure and, yes, mental health. 

“And that’s one of those areas where that is a core function of government,” said Loveless. “And that’s something that we need to do our best to keep them whole and sometimes we do have to make cuts. I mean we’re short $1.3 billion dollars and sometimes cuts have to be made.”

Cox said she hopes those cuts won’t be made to mental health. She said she owes her life and her happiness to the help she got through state agencies.  

“Having been through the school of hard knocks, I really appreciate feeling good,” Cox said, “I mean, I know what it’s like to be miserable.”

2/11/16 Related Story: Oklahoma Budget Deficit Sits At $1.3 Billion, Officials Say.