Governor Chet Culver says when he presents a budget plan to legislators late next month, he probably will not recommend closing the state Mental Health Institute in Mount Pleasant.
“I would say it’s not likely because this is going to require some additional legislative discussion, I think,” Culver says. “And it’s important to note that this process started because the legislature asked the department to study it.”
Last spring, legislators asked the director of the Iowa Department of Human Services to single out one of the four Mental Health Institutes for closure and, earlier this week, the D.H.S. director chose the one in Mount Pleasant. The governor says legislators need to “explore” their options when it comes to closing the Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute, as it may not wind up saving the state much money.
“That was one of the concerns raised yesterday,” Culver says. “Is there really cost savings or not?”
Late this morning Culver attended a statehouse forum hosted by the Associated Press and after the meeting, he told a small group of statehouse reporters that legislators may choose to keep the Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute open.
“It’s too early to know if there will be the consensus (in the legislature) on that question or not,” Culver said.
The state has four Mental Health Institutes — in Mount Pleasant, Clarinda, Cherokee and Independence. The Mental Health Institute in Mount Pleasant has an eight-point-eight million dollar operating budget and just over a hundred people on the payroll. Many would be offered jobs at the Independence facility if the one in Mount Pleasant were to close. Patient care would be transferred to Independence and the Department of Human Services director estimates the total savings of shutting downt he Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute would be about $1.7 million.
Also today, Culver signed an executive order which implements some of the budget-cutting ideas outlined in a report from a consulting firm Culver hired. That report, which was released last week, outlined about $128 million in savings the consultants say the governor can implement himself, by executive order.