by Steven Anthony
After months of debate, House Budget Chairman Rick Stream, R-St. Louis County, and other House leaders agreed on a bipartisan plan to fund a new state mental hospital in Fulton.
Rep. Jeanie Riddle’s, R-Mokane, district is home to the hospital. She said a new hospital hasn’t been built for a multitude of reasons.
“Progress has been prevented because of revenue shortages, lack of political will and mostly bureaucrats,” Riddle said.
The measure calls for a 5-year revenue bond proposal in which Missouri would pay approximately $47 million a year into the bond.
This is different than the 25-year proposal of Gov. Jay Nixon.
Stream estimates the interest payments on the bonds would cost taxpayers $30 million over five years, a savings of an estimated $120 million over Nixon’s plan.
Republican House Speaker Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County, criticized lawmakers who came before him, saying they should have done something about the hospital.
“This project’s long overdue,” Jones said. “Our predecessors before this probably could’ve taken care of this issue decades ago.”
Republican Majority Leader John Diehl, R-St. Louis County, said this is a good use of taxpayer’s money. “This is a way to do this project in a manner which is fiscally responsible,” Diehl said.
Shortly after the announcement, Nixon’s press secretary Scott Holste released a statement.
“We applaud Chairman Stream for working on a bipartisan plan to issue bonds to address this issue so that the project can begin without needless delay,” the statement said.