The Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget took center stage this week while advocates took to the Capitol hallways to warn legislators about the impact of the potential cuts. Governor Greitens was busy signing Right-to-Work on Monday at several abandoned warehouses across Missouri and sharing the news nationally on Fox News on Wednesday. The House and Senate are continuing to work through bills on their respective calendars and holding lengthy hearings to debate various topics at the committee level. Five weeks remain until the halfway point of the legislative session occurs and it is clear the demanding pace will not be slowing down anytime soon.
Greitens Signs Right-to-Work
On Monday, Governor Greitens signed legislation that enacts Missouri as the country’s 28th right-to-work state effective on August 28th. Governor Greitens’ signature was supposed to be the final step of decades of work by business groups and Republicans to make Missouri a right-to-work state. However, hours after Governor Greitens’ signed the legislation, organized labor filed a rarely used referendum petition seeking to freeze the law and put it before voters in 2018. If enough signatures are collected by opponents of right-to-work, the battle will continue. The opponents have until August 28 to collect an estimated 90,000 signatures to place the law on the ballot. If they collect enough, right-to-work will not take effect until Missourians get the opportunity to vote in 2018.
Missourians made their opposition clear this week through social media in regard to Governor Greitens proposed healthcare budget changes. Healthcare advocates united to express opposition to the changes being proposed to in-home services and nursing home care. Overall, the roughly $600 million of proposed reductions has caused anxiety among many legislators. Everyone understands the terrible budget reality the state is facing, but no entity, program, or service wants to bear the brunt of the solution.
The Governor’s proposed budget would implement a higher need to qualify for state-funded care for elderly and disabled Missourians. Advocates estimate 15,000-20,000 Missourians would lose their care and the state would save $45 million by requiring people to display more severe disability to qualify for in-home care or nursing home services. At this time, Governor Greitens has not mentioned these proposed cuts publicly and it is unknown if the House or Senate will enact the proposal into their versions of the state Fiscal Year 2018 budget.
A lengthy discussion about the proposed healthcare changes was led by Sen. Schaaf (R – St. Joseph), on Tuesday, during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing with the State Acting Budget Director, Dan Haug. Sen. Schaaf commented that the state is cutting the most vulnerable population being served through in-home and nursing home services and instead paying to expand managed care for moms and children who are already receiving care through a fee-for-service model. He recommended that the state not allocate between $35-$42 million to initiate the expansion, but rather use the funding to stop the destruction being proposed by the Governor to the state’s most vulnerable population receiving in-home and or nursing home care.
Other proposed cuts to elementary and secondary school transportation and higher education institutions were also a point of concern raised by legislators this week. The proposed cuts will harm Missourians and legislators are contemplating how to make the least negative impact to their constituents.
The Governor’s proposed budget will continue to be a point of discussion over the month of February as the House Budget Committee meets with each state department. Once they complete hearing from the various state departments, the committee will tackle drafting their own version of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget.
Applicants for Supreme Court Judge
The Missouri Bar and Governor Greitens have a long list of applicants to consider to become the next individual nominated to the Missouri Supreme Court. A list of 31 Missourians was made public this week who are seeking to be considered to replace Judge Richard B. Teitelman who passed away late last year. The applicants include