Editorials

Missouri lawmakers should help the disabled — and punish two misguided colleagues

Lawmakers return to Jefferson City on Wednesday for their annual veto session. That’s a perfect time to restore cuts for in-home care for the disabled and decide whether to punish two colleagues.
Lawmakers return to Jefferson City on Wednesday for their annual veto session. That’s a perfect time to restore cuts for in-home care for the disabled and decide whether to punish two colleagues. File photo

Missouri lawmakers have work to do.

While they’re in Jefferson City next week for a veto session, they should call themselves into special session to deal with two pressing issues:

They should reverse short-sighted cuts to in-home care for thousands of Missourians with disabilities. And they must decide whether to expel two lawmakers for their inflammatory comments. In one case, a senator expressed hope that President Donald Trump would be assassinated. A representative later called for vandals of a Confederate memorial in Springfield to be hanged.

Lawmakers can accomplish all this next week when they’re already in the Capitol to consider Gov. Eric Greitens’ vetoes. That could save taxpayer money.

Both issues have lingered, and it’s time for lawmakers to act. Calling themselves into special session isn’t easy. It requires the signatures of three-fourths of the General Assembly. That means members of both parties would have to back the idea. That’s a steep requirement, and it may prove too much.

If they can’t get there, Greitens should declare yet another special session. While we have criticized the governor’s two special sessions this year, addressing these issues when lawmakers are assembled in Jefferson City makes sense.

Also, there’s no reason why lawmakers couldn’t deal with both issues within a matter of days.

The path forward would be easier if legislators could find a reasonable way to come up with the $35 million needed to restore in-home services to 8,300 disabled Missourians. That money provides funding for basic personal-care services, such as bathing and grooming assistance.

“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,” Lt. Gov. Mike Parson said.

Parson is right. The governor from Parson’s own GOP vetoed a bill aimed at restoring funds to the in-home care program. But Greitens did so because the measure that the General Assembly sent him was a mess. It called for the money to come from a one-time sweep of special state funds. That was a “fake fix,” the governor astutely pointed out.

Now lawmakers have another chance to get it right. One answer would be to scale back corporate tax cuts that have left the legislators perpetually scrambling for dollars. Another option: Revenues for the first two months of the fiscal year jumped 6.5 percent. That exceeded expectations and could solve budget problems if the revenue wave continues.

The other task before lawmakers is dealing with two members’ inappropriate social media comments. Expulsion would set a dangerous precedent and is not the best option. But if legislators do vote to expel or censure Democratic Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal for her assassination remark, they would be hard-pressed, and politically foolish, not to extend the same punishment to Rep. Warren Love, an Osceola Republican, for his demand that Confederate monument vandals be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

So far, most of the focus has been on Chapelle-Nadal, who has a history of making aggressive remarks.

No public official should ever advocate violence. We call for both to resign. But if they won’t, lawmakers should deal with the two as a pair, meting out the same punishment to each.

It’s time to deal with these ugly matters and move on.

  Comments