Lawmakers, though, still seek fix to cuts

Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday failed to restore budget cuts to services for the elderly and disabled resulting from a veto by Gov. Eric Greitens, but Republican legislative leaders said they hope to come up with another plan over the next three weeks.

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard and House Speaker Todd Richardson said they have asked colleagues to develop a plan to reverse the cuts to in-home and nursing care for about 8,300 people. Their announcement came minutes before an effort by House Democrats to override Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ veto of one potential solution failed on a largely partisan 49-106 vote.

“It’s our job even in tough budget years to protect our most vulnerable citizens,” Richard said in a statement. “Preserving funding for in-home and nursing care is important to both chambers, and together with the House, we can come up with a plan to keep those funds for senior services intact.”

Lawmakers in May passed a bill to restore funding by allowing the state’s administration commissioner to take up to $35.4 million from unspent money in dedicated funds in order to maintain the current level of in-home and nursing services.

But Greitens in June vetoed the bill, which he called “an unconstitutional, one-time, fake fix to a real problem.”

Since then, both Republicans and Democrats have been scrambling for a solution. While House Democrats led a push to override Greitens, Republican Lt. Gov. Mike Parson called on lawmakers to convene a special session to address the problem.

Wednesday’s session focused on gubernatorial vetoes would have been a prime opportunity for another session. But a petition in Richard’s office left out for lawmakers to sign did not muster the three-fourths of lawmakers needed to call a special session as of Wednesday.

Democrats bemoaned the lack of an immediate solution for the cuts, which are being phased in under the budget took effect July 1

“The daily suffering caused to Missourians will hang on all of our heads,” said Rep. Deb Lavender, a Democrat from suburban St. Louis.

Richardson also on Wednesday said a House panel will look into an ethics complaint about a colleague who remarked on social media that he hopes whoever vandalized a Confederate monument in Springfield will be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

Republican Rep. Warren Love has apologized but has declined to resign.

House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty publicly denounced him Wednesday during a brief speech to colleagues and filed a resolution seeking to formally rebuke him.

Richard referred her resolution to the House Ethics Committee, a bipartisan panel whose proceedings are secret. He said “all options are going to be on the table,” including passage of the formal reprimand and a change to Love’s committee assignments..

Missouri senators convened later Wednesday. Members of that chamber also are weighing whether to discipline Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who posted and later deleted a comment on Facebook expressing hope that President Donald Trump is assassinated. She’s since apologized and been removed by Senate leaders from her committee assignments.