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Colin Jeffery

Colin Jeffery

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says the state's $97 billion pension shortfall isn't as dire as some people are describing.

The Chicago Democrat told WGN Radio that the pension shortfall is not an imminent crisis, but that finding a solution can help keep Illinois' income taxes down.

Cullerton made the remarks as lawmakers head back to Springfield to begin their fall veto session Tuesday. They face considerable pressure to deal with the pension problem, considered the nation's worst. But a bipartisan committee working on reform is split over a plan that saves $138 billion over 30 years.

Cullerton says the state has been putting more money into its pension systems in recent years under a 1996 law.  He says he wants to lower the annual amount the state pays in.

 

FULTON, Mo. (AP) - Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle agree that Missouri's state hospital for the most severely ill and dangerous mental health patients is in dire need of repair, but it remains unclear just how to come up with the more than $200 million needed to replace the crumbling Fulton State Hospital.

The facility is Missouri's only maximum security psychiatric hospital. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that some of the buildings on the 95-acre site are completely abandoned. Others are in such bad shape they raise safety concerns for patients and staff.

Republican state Sen. David Pearce of Warrensburg heads an interim Senate committee reviewing state building repair needs. He says many of the state's more than 6,000 buildings need fixing, but dollars are scarce.

 

Kennedy's vision for mental health never realized

Sunday, 20 October 2013 11:46 Published in National News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The last piece of legislation President John F. Kennedy signed marks its 50th anniversary Oct. 31, the transformative Community Mental Health Act.

The bill aimed to build 1,500 mental health centers to treat people while they worked and lived at home, rather than being housed for years in often-abusive state institutions.

Recent events including deadly mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard have focused public attention on how the nation is treating mental illness.

It's clear Kennedy's vision was never fully realized. While the legislation helped usher in positive changes, it was never fully funded so many of the sickest people had nowhere to turn.

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy is gathering advocates this week for the Kennedy Forum to develop an agenda for improving mental health care.

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