Committee to Discuss Fulton State Hospital Proposal

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JEFFERSON CITY- The Missouri House Budget Committee will meet Wednesday morning to discuss Governor Jay Nixon's proposal of using money in next year's budget to put a down payment on building a new mental hospital in Fulton.

Fulton State Hospital is the oldest facility of its kind west of the Mississippi River and hospital officials have long warned lawmakers that the facility is crumbling and in need of a facelift.

Although many lawmakers agree the facility needs to be repaired, they have long disagreed on the funding method that could be used to deliver a new hospital. A new hospital would likely cost more than $200 million.

The governor wants lawmakers to approve appropriation bonds in this year's budget.  Before his State of the State address last week, Nixon's staff said the bonds do not require voter approval because they are backed by appropriations out of the state's general revenue fund.

The governor said he is pushing these bonds because it could finally get the state closer to building a new hospital.

"I've been a long supporter of this and this is the method to do it," Nixon said. "We need to move foreward now, we don't need to make excuses or up the political rhetoric, that's not going to solve anything."

Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, told KOMU 8 News he disagrees with Nixon's funding method. 

While he said he supports funding a new hospital, he thinks the voters should always get a say in how lawmakers spend their money.

"I think the people should be able to vote on where their tax money is going," Kelly said.

Lawmakers will begin the process of discussing whether Nixon's proposal is the best way to build a new hospital at 8 a.m.