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responds to the
Governor Blunt’s recent State of the State address will do little to move Missouri above a failing grade when it comes to addressing the needs of many of our fellow Missourians. The lack of any restoration of the cuts to Medicaid and other social service programs that occurred in last year’s budget continues to have a disproportionately negative impact on the most vulnerable. The continuation of the “pro business” policy agenda that was touted as being the crowning reason for the modest surplus has no discernable positive impact on the well being of our state’s most vulnerable citizens, including working parents who struggle to make ends meet in jobs that do not pay adequate wages or provide benefits that truly support families.
The Missouri Association for Social Welfare (MASW) remains deeply concerned about access to health care for many Missourians. The small increase allocated to the Federally Qualified Health Clinics does not come close to assuring adequate access to health care for Missourians. Failure to restore the program providing health care for disabled workers does not encourage the personal responsibility and work ethic often referred to when government officials cut social welfare and health programs to the needy.
This proposed budget does take some steps in the right direction. We applaud the governor for increasing the Utilicare program — for not only are low-income and elderly Missourians choosing between utility payments and food, but they are also choosing between utility payments and buying medicine or going to a doctor. In addition, the increase to drug courts provides an important alternative to incarceration. MASW has long supported keeping non-violent offenders in the community in a manner that enables them to develop and express remorse, make a restitution, take responsibility for the consequences of their acts and yet allows them to support their families and be productive taxpaying members of the community.
We too believe in “Building the Missouri of our dreams.” Our dreams include a Missouri where ALL are healthy and have access to quality health care; ALL are employed at sustainable living wages; and where proposed revenue increases are directed first to our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.
Dianna P. Moore is executive director of the Missouri Association for Social Welfare. For more information, visit www.masw.org.
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