Governor Speaks Against HB 253

| September 7, 2013 | 3:20 pm
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Governor Jay Nixon spoke at the Marshall Habilitation Center on Friday.

He has been touring the state to raise support for his veto of House Bill 253. Members of the General Assembly are threatening to overturn his decision when they return to Jefferson City on Wednesday. It would require a two-thirds vote in the Missouri House and Senate.

Click to hear the Governor’s speech:

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House Bill 253 would lower the personal income tax rate by a half a percent over a ten-year period. Nixon believes this would lead to detrimental cuts to health services and education. The bill would also increase taxes on prescriptions and textbooks.

Nixon’s administration foresees a cut of $164 million to the Department of Mental Health, should the General Assembly override his veto. This would lead to the closure of five of the state’s seven developmental disability habilitation centers, include the facilities located in Marshall and Higginsville.

Press Release from the Office of the Governor

MARSHALL – Gov. Jay Nixon met with health providers, community leaders and members of the Saline County Commission in Marshall to discuss the potential impact of House Bill 253 on area facilities that serve Missourians with severe behavioral and developmental disabilities. A recent report requested by the Missouri Mental Health Commission found that an override of the Governor’s veto of House Bill 253 would result in $164 million in cuts to services provided by the Department of Mental Health, including the closure of five state-operated developmental disability habilitation centers in Marshall, Higginsville, Sikeston, Poplar Bluff, and St. Charles.

“Over the past several years, Democrats and Republicans have worked together to help Missourians with developmental disabilities live fuller and more productive lives,” Gov. Nixon said. “That is why this report showing that House Bill 253 would reduce access to these vital services is so troubling. Closing this campus would be devastating not only to these Missourians and their families, but also to the economic health of this region, putting hundreds of jobs at risk. With so much at stake, a growing number of lawmakers are joining the bipartisan coalition calling on the General Assembly to avoid these unnecessary and harmful consequences by sustaining my veto of House Bill 253.”

Habilitation centers provide residential and other support services to Missourians with severe behavioral and developmental disabilities. The closure of five of the remaining habilitation center campuses would leave open only the St. Louis Developmental Disabilities Treatment Centers’ South County campus serving medically fragile individuals and the Bellefontaine Habilitation Center campus.

For its analysis, the Department of Mental Health used the General Assembly’s own fiscal estimate, which estimates a cost of $692 million each year once the provisions of House Bill 253 are fully implemented. The Department projects General Revenue reductions to its budget of $87 million. Because many services offered by DMH also use federal matching dollars, the total reduction in the department’s budget is projected to be approximately $164 million.

According to its report, the Department of Mental Health would have to take a number of other actions to make up for the budget reductions, including reducing funding for the five DMH Regional Autism Projects across Missouri by 25 percent ($1.8 million) and reduce DMH funding to the Missouri Autism diagnostic centers by 25 percent ($1 million). The Department also anticipates having to close the 44-bed Hawthorn Children’s Psychiatric Hospital and residential care facility in St. Louis and the 32-bed Cottonwood Children’s Residential Treatment Center in Cape Girardeau. The report also raised concerns that the costs associated with House Bill 253 would make it nearly impossible to improve the facilities at Fulton State Hospital.

The full report from the Missouri Department of Mental Health can be found here.

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