Letter to the Editor

Budget cuts hurt Missourians

I'm troubled by the governor's cuts to the Missouri budget, particularly because his list includes programs I've watched help Southeast Missouri citizens live independent, healthy lives as contributing members of their community.

For Cape Girardeau and the rest of Southeast Missouri, the governor's cuts mean the Cottonwood treatment center, the Cape Tax Assistance Office and the nearby Poplar Bluff Regional center are all closing. Additionally, many agencies providing key services to Cape Girardeau and the surrounding areas are losing funding. These services include Meals on Wheels, Community Based Personal Care and Independent Living Services.

Alone, the cuts mean hardship for many of Missouri's most vulnerable citizens. However, they are not happening in isolation. They are, in fact, yet another straw on the very strained back of Missouri's citizens. For example, the state's unemployment rate has ticked up while community supports, including MOHealthnet, have become more restricted.

I have long heard cries that the ranks of government assistance programs need to be lessened and people returned to employment. However, for people to return to work, first, jobs have to be available. To cut assistance and remove support does not force people to acquire jobs if they do not exist; it instead forces people in an already tenuous position into a yet worse position. We must create an economy where jobs are available while providing supports that keep our citizens engaged and healthy. The governor's cuts, by weakening many of our state's supports, are a step away from a strong and healthy Missouri.

MATHEW F. RIGDON, director of public policy, SEMO Allicance for Disability Independence,

Cape Girardeau