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House pitches new plan for Fulton state hospital

Plan for 5 years of $47M payments could save $120M over Nixon proposal

Laura Crandall of Dietic Services at Fulton State Hospital shows the large walk-in cooler that still has a wooden door and frame that has been painted numerous times. The House pitched a new plan for the Fulton state hospital that would cost $47M a year for five years.

Laura Crandall of Dietic Services at Fulton State Hospital shows the large walk-in cooler that still has a wooden door and frame that has been painted numerous times. The House pitched a new plan for the Fulton state hospital that would cost $47M a year for five years.

House lawmakers revealed Monday an alternative bonding proposal to fund a new Fulton State Hospital (FSH) that when compared to Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposal, reduces the length of bonding by 20 years, and saves Missouri taxpayers nearly $120 million.

House Budget Chairman Rick Stream proposed a 5-year revenue bond that would require the state to make payments of nearly $47 million each year. He said his proposal would require Missouri taxpayers to pay nearly $30 million in interest throughout the five years.

“I felt that this was the best way financially for taxpayers in Missouri,” said Stream, R-Kirkwood.

Nixon’s plan—a $198 million bond issue in the form of an appropriation bond—would require nearly $150 million from Missouri taxpayers over 25 years.

Rep. John Diehl, R-Town and Country, said Stream’s proposal is “fiscally responsible,” and “allows for the flexibility of the money for the project to be released as it’s needed.”

“At the end of the day, we as a General Assembly pay for this project while a good number of us are here and we’re not just kicking this down the road for future general assemblies and future taxpayers to pay for this,” he said.

FSH opened in 1851 and is known to be the oldest mental health facility west of the Mississippi River. Several of its buildings have been deemed unsafe for workers and patients.

The state expects a new hospital to cost nearly $211 million, which includes $13 million for design. The governor released the $13 million in December, so the state must decide how to fund the remaining $198 million.

Stream said his funding proposal doesn’t change the timeline of the project. Construction would begin in spring 2015.

“We’re going to put the money in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget and it will be there in plenty of time to award the contracts,” he said.

In response to Stream’s proposal, Governor’s Office spokesman Scott Holste said the office appreciates the House and Senate responding to Nixon’s call to replace FSH.

“As this continues to move through the process, we look forward to working with members of the Senate and others to fund this project in the most cost-effective way possible,” he said.

Rep. Jeanie Riddle—whose district includes FSH—said Monday that she’s worked to make the hospital a safer place for state employees and patients for the past six years.

“I feel confident today saying that members of this General Assembly want to rebuild Fulton State Hospital, and they want to do it now,” she said.

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