Editorial Summary: Missouri | Kansas News


Kansas City Star. June 2, 2022.

Editorial: If only mental health care could stop gun violence, Kansas and Missouri are far behind

A week after an 18-year-old gunman murdered 21 people, including 19 children, opponents of reasonable gun restrictions continue to focus on other possible causes, including a lack of mental health services .

“We need to look at what’s causing these attacks,” said Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri. “Are there any mental health issues we can tackle? ” she asked.

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“We must continue to work to ensure that anyone with a mental or behavioral health issue can get the treatment they need, when they need it,” Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri told PBS NewsHour.

“We as a state, we as a society, need to do a better job on mental health,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said.

Americans should not be misled. The problem is individual access to high-powered weapons, not just mental illness. There is no indication that the Uvalde, Texas shooter sought mental health counseling. There is no evidence that better services would have prevented this particular massacre.

Moreover, a focus on mental health issues after the massacres unfairly exposes millions of Americans struggling with depression and other issues. Not everyone who asks for help intends to shoot someone else. In fact, blaming mental illness for gun violence may deter some patients from seeking help when they need it.

The first and most important response to gun violence is fewer guns, period.

At the same time, improving the treatment of mental health in this country is essential in itself. More than a third of adult Missourians reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in just one week last fall; in Kansas, the figure was 29%.

The coronavirus crisis has tripled the number of people facing mental health issues. “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health issues have been exacerbated,” reports the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Mental illness hurts patients, families and friends. It hurts the economy. It causes suffering and, on occasion, violence.

This year, lawmakers in Kansas and Missouri — loaded with cash — have made welcome additional investments in mental health services. But there is much, much more to do.

In 2022, according to Mental Health America, an advocacy group, Missouri ranked 41st in the nation for access to mental health care. Kansas, which refuses to expand Medicaid, was even worse, at 44th in the nation. These are appalling numbers.

Mental health services for children in both states are substandard. In Kansas, there is one school psychologist for every 1,157 students. A study found. Missouri’s ratio is one psychologist for every 4,867 students. The recommended ratio is 1-500.

“We need more mental health professionals in our schools,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association.

“We have a mental health crisis in children,” said a recent statement from Sherrie Vaughn, executive director of the Kansas chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

In Kansas and Missouri, it is still too difficult to find mental health service providers and pay treatment fees. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people in both states are suffering, mostly in silence.

Both states must continue to increase spending on mental health services and their availability. After that, however, there is more to do: lawmakers must tie mental health treatment to the ability to buy or possess a gun.

Kansas and Missouri do not have so-called “red flag laws,” which allow courts to temporarily restrict gun ownership for those who pose a proven threat to themselves or others. Both states should enact such laws.

To his credit, Blunt said he was open to a national red flag law. Congress should act if the states do not. There is no reason for someone in a mental health crisis to have access to a weapon.

America has too many guns. There are also too many people who need help with mental illness. We should work on the first problem, and, at the same time, work on the second.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch. June 5, 2022.

Editorial: Missouri lawmakers drain lottery ad budget even as they allow unregulated competitors

The Missouri State Lottery has become a crucial tax asset for the state, which is expected to generate $400 million in revenue for Missouri schools this year. This windfall could be even greater if the Legislative Assembly had not spent the past several years dramatically cutting the lottery’s advertising and promotion budgets to virtually nothing.

It would actually be comforting to believe that this is just myopia on the part of state leaders, but it’s fair to wonder if this is a deliberate undermining of the games. After all, these are the same legislators who receive political contributions from an unregulated (and arguably illegal) video game industry that competes with the lottery for gambling money.

The question was raised again last week with the sudden announcement of the resignation of longtime lottery manager May Scheve-Reardon. She spoke of frustration with ad breaks which she says are already beginning to affect ticket sales.

Scheve-Reardon nearly doubled lottery sales during his 13 years at the helm — a record that wouldn’t have been possible without an advertising budget that in years past has reached $16 million. But the last few years of slash and burn cuts by the Legislative Assembly have brought it down to its current level of $400,000. A separate line item for promotional events has been reduced in the new state budget from just over $2 million to…$1.

“We spent 13 years building an incredible company, and slowly but surely the legislature was taking away the tools we needed,” Scheve-Reardon told us last week.

Most large companies spend 5% to 10% of their gross revenue on advertising. The Missouri Lottery has never spent anything like this, but at least its multi-million dollar advertising and promotional budgets have allowed it to compete with casinos and other gambling options. The $400,000 available now is only little more than a token. “You can’t do anything with it,” Scheve-Reardon said.

Is that perhaps the whole point?

It seems inconsistent that Legislative Republicans, who still debate how government should be run like a business, are undermining one of the first rules of business – you have to spend money to make money. money – and hamper a cash cow that schools rely on. . It makes even less sense that these cuts to an already modest lottery promotional budget should come at a time when state coffers are overflowing with money.

As we reiterated recently, the legislature has failed to rein in the thousands of unregulated electronic gaming machines operating throughout the state, in apparent defiance of state gaming laws, which do not help a penny to Missouri schools or other services. The makers of these machines, however, are contributing heavily to lawmakers who continue to let them work – and who, at the same time, make it harder for the lottery to compete with them. Which betting odds are a coincidence?

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