The senator who represents Mount Pleasant is lamenting the now permanent layoffs of workers at the two state-run Mental Health Institutes in southern Iowa. Senator Rich Taylor, a Democrat from Mount Pleasant, notes that Monday was the last day for three dozen workers at the MHI in his town.

“What a tragic mistake I think we’re making in this state by closing these MHIs down and it’s not that I don’t think that maybe we could do something different,” Taylor said during remarks on the senate floor. “It’s mainly that we’re just not ready.”

Some legislators have suggested the closure of the state-run institutes for patients with acute mental illness needed to be delayed until adequate alernatives were in place, but Governor Branstad on Monday made it clear he believes he had the authority as chief executive of state government to close the facilities now. Taylor made an appeal to his fellow senators yesterday.

“I’d like to issue you all a challenge to contact the governor and tell him: ‘You know, just hold off for a while,” Taylor said. “‘See if we can work out a plan and make this work. If this is what we’re going to do, make sure that we make this work and these people get the services they need.'”

According to the leader of the union that represents a large share of workers at the two facilities, May 18 is the target date to complete layoffs at the Clarinda Mental Health Institute. May 31 is the target date for complete closure of the MHI in Mount Pleasant. Governor Branstad has said the state “can’t continue to just throw money at a broken system” and he told reporters on Monday he has was elected “to reduce the size and cost of government.”