Governor Terry Brasntad has until July 6 to make final decisions on the entire state budget outline legislators sent him earlier this month, but Branstad’s giving strong hints he’ll reject the legislature’s plan to keep the Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant open.

“I would point out Iowa was late to get serious about redesigning our mental health system,” Branstad said this afternoon. “Other states like Minnesota went from 11 institutions to one. They’ve done that. Wisconsin has reduced the number of institutions. So has Nebraska and Illinois — most of our neighboring states.”

Already last week layoff notices were sent to 28 employees at the state-run Mental Health Institute in Mount Pleasant and 53 MHI employees in Clarinda. Branstad told reporters today that he wants to “move forward” and shift to community-based mental health services.

“We haven’t made a final decision, but I have shared my philosophy and my goals to have a better system that better meets the mental health needs of Iowans and I believe makes more sense,” Branstad said.

Branstad made his comments this afternoon during taping of the Iowa Press program that will air tonight on Iowa Public Television.