Skip to comments.Holden calls special session
Posted on 05/19/2003 4:59:01 PM PDT by Noslrac
Holden calls special session
Vetoes health budget provisions, more vetoes may be coming
By BOB WATSON
Missouri lawmakers will return to Jefferson City for a special session, but Gov. Bob Holden doesn't know the date yet.
He didn't say what specifically would be in the call, because he's decided so far to veto only one of the 18 budget bills lawmakers approved 10 days ago.
Flanked by parents and some children who receive services from the Health and Mental Health departments, Holden this morning said he would veto the budget bill that funds those two departments.
"We're not talking about cutting red tape and the bureaucracy here," Holden said, after calling the Legislature's $18.9 billion budget plan unacceptable. "We're talking about cutting vital services to these children, and hundreds of other children throughout the state of Missouri."
The governor added: "I have trimmed close to $1 billion out of this general revenue budget, as you know."
Holden said, when Missourians understand the lawmakers' choices, voters would support a tax increase package to make sure vital services continue, "because Missourians are compassionate people."
The governor said budget cuts in mental health care would cut services to 5,800 developmentally disabled Missourians.
He said another 3,200 mentally ill adults and 800 emotionally disturbed children would lose psychiatric services, under the budget plan.
And, the governor said, the total budget was $367 million out of balance. Budget Director Linda Luebbering said after this morning's news conference the figure still may be as high as $714 million.
Rep. Brad Lager, R-Maryville and vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, told The Associated Press he was "a little skeptical" about the numbers of people that Holden claimed would lose services.
Sen. John Russell, the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, said Holden's announcement appeared to be a publicity stunt.
"He's just doing it to get his name in the newspaper three or four times," said Russell, R-Lebanon.
After the budget was passed, the Legislature's Republican leaders said several times they provided the best budget possible under the state's current financial conditions.
But Holden said: "We can do better. ... (Lawmakers) have made the problem more difficult."
During this morning's news conference, Micky McCool of St. Louis said she knew of another family that almost had surrendered their parental rights to the state, so their daughter could get services they could not provide.
"Their family stayed together because she was able to access this (state) program," McCool said. "With these budget cuts, this program could go by the wayside -- then what's going to happen to this family, if they're forced to put their daughter in an institution?"
She said that would "cost so much more for the state."
Mary Hawkins of Springfield told reporters how her family had benefited from several programs for their son -- now 18 -- who had a hemorrhage when he was one-week old and since has been diagnosed with both cerebral palsy and, at age 13, with autism.
"Since this training, he went every day to school this year, not missing one day for his behaviors," she said. "But we had such a tough time with him, we didn't know if he would be able to stay at home with us."
Holden said he's still looking at the rest of the budget, to decide how he'll act on those 17 other bills.