Making cuts in the state budget is never easy, but a firestorm broke out after the House Appropriations Committee on Health, Mental Health and Social Services without discussion last week made controversial cuts in the state’s social services budget.
The committee, along party lines, approved budget recommendations cutting $65 million from general revenue. The biggest cut of $28 million eliminated services to 2,800 blind Missourians. Another $12 million was cut for poor working parents who received child care subsidies. Another $4.5 million was cut from home care services for Medicaid patients. Committee Chair Tom Flanigan (R-Carthage) defended the cuts by saying they were to offset a $106 million cut in funding for state colleges and universities.
Gov. Nixon was quick to respond to the committee’s actions during a press conference by saying that cutting social services programs to free up money for higher education was “just plain wrong.” Nixon said he would “fight to restore the cuts.”
The process is far from over and signs indicate that the controversial cuts might not stand. This week after the House Appropriations Committee gave its recommendations to the Budget Committee, Budget Chair Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) appointed a new subcommittee to take a closer look at areas where the budgets for the Departments of Mental Health, Health and Senior Services might be reduced.