Panel approves $15.8 million for mental health institutes

MADISON — The Legislature's budget committee has approved state health officials' request to spend more on Wisconsin's mental health institutes.

The Department of Health Services wants to spend an additional $15.8 million beyond the state budget on upgrades at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison, the Winnebago Mental Health Institute near Oshkosh and three centers for the mentally disabled in Madison, Union Grove and Chippewa Falls.

The agency wants to make information technology improvements at the facilities, increase space for criminally committed patients at Mendota, install a new patient monitoring system at Mendota, begin work on a new unit for women at Winnebago and boost efforts to restore criminal defendants' competency in the Milwaukee County Jail.

The Joint Finance Committee approved the request unanimously Wednesday.