Millions in lawsuit settlements strain state budget, prompt questions over policy decisions

Government And Institutions Associated Press

The high cost of two major lawsuits against the state are complicating the next state budget, and it's not the first time that's happened.

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A settlement over mental health services will cost the state $24 million in the upcoming budget, and another suit over a hospital tax could take up to $80 million from the general fund. These costs won't be easily swallowed in an already tight budget of roughly $10.7 billion.

The lawsuits are the latest in a series of others that have hit the state's bottom line. The state recently spent $38 million to build a new women's prison, stemming from a lawsuit filed by female prisoners. Lawsuits over school funding have stretched out for decades, with the state continually changing how it funds local schools.

In 2014, the state had a financial stake in 28 lawsuits.