Gov. Kathy Hochul made an unprecedented commitment to funding mental health services in her executive budget.

But advocates are worried that Hochul and the Legislature will neglect what they argue is needed the most: an 8.5% cost of living increase for those who work in this field. 

“What we’re hearing is dribs and drabs and we’re not hearing a great story,” Glenn Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association of New York State, told Capital Tonight. “We’re hearing a few percentage points, maybe.”

While both the legislative houses included an 8.5% COLA in their one-house budgets, Gov. Hochul included a 2.5% increase, which Liebman says simply isn’t enough.

“We’re talking about 800,000 people in the human services sector. Of that 800,000, over 80% are women. Over 50% are women of color. So, it’s an equity issue. It’s a fairness issue,” he said.