Government & Politics

Thousands of disabled Missourians are losing aid. Will lawmakers act next week?

Missouri Republican calls for Democrat to be expelled from legislature

Lt. Gov. Mike Parson says the Senate should vote next week to kick out Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal over her Facebook comment hoping for the president's assassination.
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Lt. Gov. Mike Parson says the Senate should vote next week to kick out Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal over her Facebook comment hoping for the president's assassination.

With more than 8,000 disabled Missourians facing a loss of state aid to help them pay for in-home and nursing care, Lt. Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday called for lawmakers to convene a special session next week to reverse those cuts.

He was joined later in the day by Senate President Ron Richard, a Joplin Republican, who said he would ask Gov. Eric Greitens to call lawmakers back into session.

But neither Parson nor Richard offered specifics for where the legislature will find that money.

Lawmakers are already returning to the Missouri Capitol next week to consider whether to override any of Greitens’ vetoes. One of those vetoes was of a bill that would have provided funding to avoid cuts to the in-home care program.

Without the $35 million funding fix approved by lawmakers, the $27 billion state budget changes eligibility requirements for Missourians to qualify for in-home and nursing care services through Medicaid.

Essentially, people are now required to display more severe disabilities to get state-funded care, a change that could eventually affect more than 8,000 Missourians.

“Without this funding, those most at risk Missourians — seniors, the disabled and veterans — will lose access to services they depend upon, therefore reducing their quality of life,” Parson said during a Thursday press conference at the Capitol.

There’s not enough support in the Missouri House to override the governor’s veto, so Parson hopes the General Assembly will call itself into special session to come up with a new plan.

Parson didn’t lay out any plan to reverse the cuts, saying only that he thinks leaders in the House and Senate “will come up with the resources to reinstate that funding.”

“They are working on a plan now that I know of,” he said. “I believe there’s a possibility for a plan put together before the veto session.”

In an interview Wednesday with The Star, House Speaker Todd Richardson said conversations about how to fully fund in-home care are ongoing. But he gave no indication that a plan was imminent or that a special session was in the works.

“It’s my hope we can find a practical and workable solution to that problem before the start of next session” in January, Richardson said.

Richard said Thursday that in addition to requesting the governor call a special session, he also will talk with his fellow GOP senators on Friday to gauge interest in the idea.

Greitens, who vetoed the legislature-backed plan because he said it was an “unconstitutional, one-time, fake fix to a real problem,” said Wednesday that he has “not received any proposals from anyone in the Senate or the House on that, or from anyone in the state of Missouri.”

The governor’s original budget proposal in February called for even deeper cuts to the in-home care program that would have affected more than 20,000 disabled Missourians.

Parson, a Republican, also on Thursday renewed his demand that the Missouri Senate vote to expel Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal over a Facebook comment she posted and then quickly deleted saying she hoped President Donald Trump is assassinated.

“I have no desire to sit in the same chamber with an elected official who called for the assassination of the president of the United States,” he said. “But if my colleagues are comfortable with this, that is their decision to make.”

Parson also addressed criticism that he hasn’t been as publicly eager to expel Republican state Rep. Warren Love over his recent Facebook post calling for vandals of a Confederate memorial in Springfield to be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

He re-emphasized that as lieutenant governor he presides over only the Senate, adding that “the House of Representatives will decide how they handle Rep. Love.”

House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, a Kansas City Democrat, called Parson’s position a “cowardly dodge.” She said Parson’s position in the Missouri Senate is largely ceremonial, and thus, “his authority over state representatives is exactly the same as his authority over state senators — non-existent. The only thing stopping Mike Parson from taking a consistent position is his own partisan hypocrisy.”

Richard said he will offer a resolution next week to expel Chappelle Nadal, but it’s unclear if he will have the 23 votes needed to remove her from office.

The Star’s Bryan Lowry contributed to this story.

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock