This week I came across a story, Law Enforcement: Lack of Resources for Mental Health in Iowa a Major Problem. In this story, Governor Branstad blamed Democrats for the closing of two MHIs and was quoted as saying, ” The fact remains that every Senate Democrat suing the state voted to not fund the two mental health institutions in question and keep them closed in House File 2460 (Roll Call Vote can be found here).” I was taken aback, because that is not how I remembered it happening. So I wrote to my state senator, Joe Bolkcom, asking if the story was accurate and I have posted his reply below. Basically, Branstad was just lying.
From Senator Bolkcom:
Your question has come to us repeatedly because all the Republican challengers are cookie cutter claiming that it was Senate Democrats’ fault that the two mental health institutes closed.
The short answer is, this is a cynical lie. The CR Gazette gave Sen Mathis’s opponent an F for the claim in their fact checking. The Republicans are desperate. If you can’t win with facts tell lies. It is the new Republican brand. Liars.
It is outrageous that Republicans are now blaming Senate Democrats for the closure of two mental health institutes. The facts clearly show that the decision was Governor Branstad’s. Even a few House Republican legislators called on Branstad to reverse course. The Senate Democrats worked during the 2015 session to save both MHIs only finally agreeing at the end of a long session to save Mt. Pleasant and privatize some of the gero-psych services at Clarinda. The Governor VETOED that compromise and both MHIs closed.
The original HHS Budget passed by the Senate in 2015 was SSB 1288 and SF 505 (first Senate passage) fully funded Mt. Pleasant and Clarinda (using SSBG funds). https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/NOBA/712552.pdf
NO Republicans voted for the version that funded all 4 MHI’s …26-22 Senate Journal 991. Costello, Feenstra, Johnson, Rozenboom, Segebart, Sinclair and Smith voted for the final compromise 33-17 Senate Journal 1079.
In addition Senate Republicans have not voted for any funding for mental health institutes, mental health regions or Medicaid funding for mental health in years.—which means we don’t have enough community services in place.
The bill that contained the “study MHI’s” language was in 2010, HF 811. It also contained full funding for the 4 MHI’s. We study lots of things and use the information in the studies to decide if it’s something is working or needs to be changed. The study indicated we need the services provided by the MHI’s. We never implemented closing any MHI, in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. We fought to keep them all open through a long 2015 session and finally ended up with a compromise to keep Mt. Pleasant open and look into privatizing Clarinda, which would have kept services in place.
To be attacked for working to improve mental health services is dishonest. Especially since the Governor and Republican legislators have done so much to hurt the service network by closing much needed mental health beds and privatizing Medicaid. So cynical.
Remember in November!