JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX/Capitol Bureau) – Plans to update a dilapidated state mental health facility were stalled by a filibuster during a Senate hearing.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, would raise the cap on revenue bonds by about $600 million. The substantial amount of money the state would have to borrow would go towards both rebuilding the Fulton Mental Health Hospital in Callaway County and renovating higher education facilities owned by the state.
“It’s probably time to take care of some of our buildings that I believe we have an obligation to here in the Senate,” said Parson during the hearing on Tuesday, March 4. “I’m talking about basic, fundamental deferred maintenance. That means fixing roofs, fixing doors, fixing sprinkler systems; doing things that have been neglected for a long time.”
However, the bill met stiff opposition from more fiscally conservative lawmakers who want to keep the state from furthering its debts.
“You want us to go from around $4.1 billion in total indebtedness up to like $4.7 billion?” asked Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph. “Now we’re looking at a bill to borrow $600 million. How does this make any sense?”
Schaaf and Sen. John Lamping, R-St. Louis County, initiated the filibuster that lasted around two hours, citing that borrowing money through bonds was not in the state nor the taxpayer’s best interest.
“One of the things I keep hearing is that this is the perfect time in history to borrow money,” said Schaaf. “I don’t believe that at all. I think that this is a horrible time in history to borrow money.”
Sensing that there would be no vote on the bill, the Senate adjourned for the evening.
At this point, there is no future hearing date for the bill.