Fulton State Hospital still a priority

Building a new Fulton State Hospital remains a high priority for Gov. Jay Nixon — and paying for it should survive the budget-approval process he’s doing in the next couple of weeks.

“My sense is, that one will move forward,” Nixon said. “Every day we don’t move forward on that is another unsafe day for the workers up there, and it makes it more difficult for us to provide appropriate treatment.

“As far as all the other projects that are out there — they’re all on the table. Every one of them.”

Nixon is continuing efforts to tell local business and government leaders throughout the state that lawmakers passed a number of bills on the just-completed session’s last day that has “thrown” the budget for the 2014-15 state business year “dramatically out of balance.”

“With almost no debate, lawmakers quietly passed more than a dozen special handouts for a slew of special interests — fast food restaurants, power companies, personal seat licenses at stadiums, dry cleaners, country club memberships — and the list goes on and on,” Nixon said. “It’s important to note that these special breaks and exemptions were not accounted for in the budget that the Legislature passed just the week before — and they certainly were not anticipated by the local jurisdictions that will, also, be affected.”

Those tax breaks, the governor said, will remove $425 million from the state budget each year, and reduce local sales tax revenues by at least $351 million each year.

Figures released this week by state Budget Director Linda Luebbering show the tax changes made on the session’s last day would cost Mid-Missouri counties, cities and school districts more than $27 million each year.

“Pulling the rug out from local governments and the essential services they provide is not what Missourians sent folks to Jefferson City to do,” Nixon told. “This budget is severely out of balance, and I’m going to have to take strong, direct and appropriate action to balance it” at the state level, “and counties and cities all across the state are going to have to do that at the local level.”

Among the lawmaker-approved construction projects Nixon could stop is the $6 million renovation of the St. Mary’s Health Center complex for use by Lincoln University, Linn State Technical College and, possibly, state agencies like the Transportation department — after the hospital donates its current complex to the state government next year.

St. Mary’s plans to moved from the current hospital to its new facility off Missouri 179 in southwestern Jefferson City in mid-November.

In a Wednesday afternoon news release, House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said the governor had “again resorted to half-truths and hyperbole to attack the tax relief efforts of the Missouri General Assembly” in making “much-needed clarifications to our tax laws that will prevent the governor from exceeding his authority by unfairly collecting more taxes from our employers.”

And, Jones questioned the administration’s estimates of the impact some of the tax relief provisions would have on state revenues, saying: “The governor fails to understand the positive impact substantive tax relief will have on our economy when businesses can re-invest earnings into infrastructure development and more jobs with higher pay instead of using tax dollars to expand government and increase spending.”

When asked about those comments, Nixon said Thursday: “If these things were so important, why didn’t they account for them in the budget?”

And, he added: “We don’t need continued political boiler plates from politicians unwilling to balance budgets.”

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