St. Louis Public Radio News
12:18 pm
Tue April 22, 2003

Mental Health Workers Protest Proposed State Cuts

St. Louis, MO – A labor union representing mental health and corrections department employees in Missouri says proposed cutbacks for next year's budget would jeopardize their ability to protect the public.

Officials with the Service Employees International Union Local 2000 say the legislature is poised to cut as much as $40-million from the Department of Mental Health and $20-million from the Department of Corrections.

Probation and parole officer Larry Elliott says he and his fellow workers haven't received a pay increase in three years, and that it may be another two years before state lawmakers even consider another one.

Our health insurance premiums have gone up for the last three years, so therefore we've basically taken a cut in pay," Elliott said. "If you're a single person living on this income it's very tough. The pay scale is just horrible.

Missouri lawmakers have until May 9 to approve the final budget.