JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - Attorney General Jim Hood announced on Thursday that he had deposited $34.4 million from state lawsuits into the state Treasury as legislatures continue working on the budget.
Hood urged lawmakers to use $7 million of the funds for the Mississippi Department of Mental Health to reopen drug and alcohol treatment facilities at the state hospital and fund local disability programs.
This includes about 2 million to go toward the reopening of the Chemical Dependency Unit for men at the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield. The 25-bed unit closed last year after budget cuts, leaving no state-operated chemical dependency unit for males in Mississippi.
"Many counties have relied on the men's drug and alcohol facility at Whitfield to treat those committed by court order to stay at Whitfield until they are released," Hood said in a press release. "I have received pleas from lawyers for and family members of men committed for drug and alcohol treatment to see if we can reopen the Whitfield unit. If some Legislators do not care about the families of those addicted to drugs, then they should at least be concerned that the cost to taxpayers of doing nothing is more than the cost of treatment."
Hood requested that the remainder of the $5 million be used to fund the Intellectual Disabilities/Developmental Disabilities Home and Community Based Waiver program, which is a Medicaid funded program that reimburses local providers when treating qualified individuals.
"The Legislature has been funding this program for several years," Hood said. "Without this funding, services to many enrollees would be reduced, the number of enrollees would be reduced, or a combination of both. This funding will also assist us in defending the state in pending litigation."
Most of the $34.4 million came from a multi-state settlement with credit rating agency Moody's Corporation, Investors Service and Analytics, Inc. Hood and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen led the investigation and litigation in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice.