The following is a statement from New York State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz:
The horrific tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut requires that we not ignore the loud and clear message that came out of that unspeakable crime: we must make professional help readily available to individuals struggling with mental illness a top legislative priority.
Not only must we renew our commitment to enacting the Assembly’s tougher gun control legislative agenda, which includes a long overdue ban on assault weapons, but we also must get serious about developing a more effective way to provide help to people suffering from mental health problems.
As chair of the Assembly Committee on Mental Health and longtime supporter of increased access to alcohol and substance abuse treatment, prevention, and education services, I am reintroducing my bill (A.6738 - 2009) to raise $1 billion for a statewide initiative that would increase access to professional care for people with mental health disorders. It is clear that there is a great need for more community mental health services to help enhance the lives of people with serious mental illness.
The 25 cent surcharge on all alcoholic beverage sales that my legislation calls for would establish a mental health assistance program that is focused on prevention, intervention and treatment.
By improving the availability of professional help to individuals with mental health disabilities, our state will have more productive and healthier residents, as well as increased public safety.