Talk of building a new state mental hospital in Fulton has become an argument about whether to write a check or go into debt. The discussion has stalled a financing proposal in the state senate.
Senator Mike Parson of Bolivar wants to issue bonds to build the new hospital and to pay for the worst deferred maintenance work at state buildings, colleges and universities. His plan would raise that part of the state debt to just under $1.2-billiion.
Fulton admittedly is old and dangerous for the people who work there. But Parson says they’re not the only ones in danger. He says it’s also dangerous for the patients in the hospital.
He says similar bonding programs have been used by Governors all the way to Joseph Teasdale in the 1970s. He argues this is the best time to borrow money because interest rates are low. And he says state facilities that have had no maintenance for the best part of a decade must be fixed. (Hear his discussion of past governors and present building needs with Debate, Part 1.)
But some other senators note that the state has so much money that some of their colleagues want to give big tax cuts for business. St. Louis Senator John :Lamping says the legislature is “crazy.” Lamping, a securities broker in private life, says the state can afford write a $200 million check for the new hospital and other checks for repair work on statewide buildings, which it should do instead of going another $400-milion in debt.
Parson has put his bill aside temporarily.