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Mental Health Advocates Sue Dukakis, Say Budget Cuts Unconstitutional With AM-Political Rdp

June 1, 1988

Mental Health Advocates Sue Dukakis, Say Budget Cuts Unconstitutional With AM-Political Rdp Bjt

BOSTON (AP) _ Mental health advocates filed suit Wednesday against Gov. Michael Dukakis and his top budget officer, contending spending cuts ordered to balance the state budget were unconstitutional and would delay community placement of state hospital patients.

The suit by the Alliance for the Mentally Ill said human services programs bear too much of the burden in the cancellation of nearly $250 million in planned state spending for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

The suit, filed with the state Supreme Court, also asserted that Dukakis and state Secretary of Administration and Finance Fran Keefe acted unconstitutionally in rolling back spending without the approval of the Legislature.

The alliance asked for an injunction prohibiting the Dukakis administration from ordering the ″reversions″ - cuts that do not affect basic services but cancel or trim planned program expansion.

No hearing date was set.

Dukakis, whose state budget problems have become an issue in his Democratic presidential campaign, has defended his administration’s record in aiding the mentally ill.

He has said the past three years have seen ″the most significant expansion in the history of the state″ in spending for the mentally ill.

″We’ll do everything we can to make sure patient care is first class in our state hospitals,″ Dukakis said. ″That is a commitment I feel very strongly.″