DES MOINES – AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan released the following statement concerning today’s announcement that Abbe Center for Community Care, Inc., where AFSCME Iowa Council 61 represents employees, would close on September 30, 2013:

“Today’s news is devastating news for the residents of Abbe Center, their families, and the employees of Abbe Center. Since 1987, Abbe Center has provided exceptional transitional and residential services to adults with mental illness in Linn County.

“The closing of Abbe Center will disrupt the lives of 77 residents who will be forced to relocate. The closing will cost 80 employees their jobs. The local economy will suffer as $2,262,000 in payroll is wiped out.

“This closing shows the consequences of Governor Branstad’s misguided priorities that are harming Iowa’s communities. In June, Governor Branstad item vetoed $13 million for mental health services from House File 648. These funds would have allowed the Iowa Department of Human Services to award funds to counties to maintain services during the mental health transition. These funds could have helped keep Abbe Center open and providing mental health services to the community.

“The Governor’s veto is all the more unconscionable when you consider that the state has a massive cash surplus and that Governor Branstad has championed spending hundreds of millions of state, local, and federal dollars on a fertilizer plant that will create only 165 permanent jobs.

“At the time of the Governor’s item-veto, Senator Rob Hogg of Linn County said that ‘Republicans and Democrats in the Iowa Legislature created a $13 million dollar safety net. The goal was to insure that every person who needs mental health services receives those services so future tragedies would be prevented […] Governor Branstad vetoed that safety net. Ironically, the Governor’s own Department of Human Services would have controlled spending from this pool, providing it to individual counties on a case-by-case basis after need was demonstrated. Governor Branstad’s veto of the risk pool guarantees that some counties will be forced to deny essential services to people who need them.’ AFSCME Iowa Council 61 completely agrees with Senator Hogg’s statement and it should be obvious to all Iowans that his prediction was 100 percent correct.

“Our hearts go out to the Abbe Center residents and Abbe Center staff whose lives will be turned upside down by this closing.”

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