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Budget cuts hurt programs for senior citizens, disabled

After years of tax cuts for special interest groups and wealthy corporations, Gov. Eric Greitens and the Missouri Legislature found themselves confronted with declining tax revenue while working on this year’s state budget. This occurrence was predictable.

Because the Missouri Constitution requires a balanced budget, the Legislature was forced to cut funding for various state programs. After the session was over, the governor imposed additional cuts and withholdings. Programs for health, transportation and higher education were not spared. Programs for the elderly and handicapped were special targets.

The governor stated, “We have to make tough decisions.” After making these budget cuts, however, Gov. Greitens found enough money to call the legislators back to Jefferson City for special sessions.

When the budget deliberations were complete, more than 8,000 seniors and disabled Missourians lost their in-home care and nursing home services. In addition, more than 63,000 low-income seniors lost state assistance to help them pay for prescription drugs. This should not have happened.

The governor and Legislature can reverse this trend and restore program funding for Missouri seniors by reversing some of the tax cuts they made for the wealthy. They can also prevent additional tax cuts, which are scheduled to become effective in 2018, from becoming a reality. Failure to do so will cause great harm to Missouri’s elderly and disabled citizens.

Do our elected officials care about our seniors and disabled citizens? It appears they do not.

Dave Damico  •  Jefferson City

President, Missouri Coalition for Quality Care

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