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Lawmakers revive hope for Chippewa Valley mental health expansion

Eau Claire (WQOW) — Several Chippewa Valley lawmakers suggested Friday that there is still hope for saving a $15 million dollar appropriation to expand local mental health treatment.

Governor Tony Evers (D-WI) used a line-item veto to remove that money from the state budget this past July.

At the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce “Eggs and Issues” panel Friday morning, Senator Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) and Senator Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire) both said there is a chance the money can be restored.

Smith called the veto “a mistake”. Bernier said she tried to convince officials that the bill would actually pay for itself in a few years by reducing the number of trips local law enforcement officials have to make across the state to take patients to and from the only current treatment centers.

Related: New bill to boost funding for mental health aid in Chippewa Valley

HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals had planned to use the money to add 22 in-patient beds at the two hospitals, 18 for juveniles in Chippewa Falls and four for adults in Eau Claire. Because those centers are frequently full, patients often have to be taken across the state for treatment.

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