Despite lawmakers overwhelming override support of funds to help ex-offenders, Governor Nixon announced late last week that he was still withholding funds for the community re-entry grants to ensure a balanced budget. During the Veto Session, the House of Representatives voted 132-26 to override the Governor’s veto and restore funding to community non-profit organizations that assist ex-offenders returning to society. The vote in the Senate was 31-1 (see veto session votes in this update).
Over 40 community organizations across the state have benefited from the program that provided $2 million annually in funding. These organizations have provided a variety of services including employment counseling/training, case management services, substance abuse treatment, life skills and family mentoring, as well as housing and transportation assistance. The Criminal Justice Ministry in St. Louis and the TurnAround Program in Kansas City were two Catholic agencies that helped ex-offenders using the funds received from these grants.
In addition to the re-entry grant program, Governor Nixon withheld some or all funding for about 50 budget items in which the lawmakers successfully overrode his veto. The Governor could still release funding for these programs any time during the current fiscal year. For a complete listing of the Governor’s withholdings, click here.
The MCC supported the re-entry grant override because helping ex-offenders successfully return to society saves the state future incarceration costs, makes communities safer, and represents a Christ-like response to the needs of ex-offenders.