Greetings Friends of the 144!
During this difficult time it can be hard to keep a positive attitude. However, keeping a positive attitude will not only help you but others around you. You may not be able to get out with friends and family, but you can still enjoy your morning coffee with them. Pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t talked to in a while you are having your morning coffee. They will appreciate the call. Please remember to check on any living alone to make sure they are doing alright.
House Members Set to Resume Session to Approve Supplemental Budget
Members of the Missouri House of Representatives will return to the Missouri State Capitol building on Wednesday, April 8 to approve a supplemental budget bill that will provide vital funding for the state’s efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19. House members had approved a version of the bill with funding for coronavirus efforts before Congress had approved the federal stimulus package. The House and Senate are now set to agree on a new version of the bill that will contain additional funding the state will receive from the stimulus bills.
House Speaker Elijah Haahr and Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo issued a joint statement saying, “Upon the governor’s new recommended changes and passage by the Senate next Wednesday, the House plans to immediately convene to debate, and vote on the supplemental budget bill, authorizing millions of dollars to battle the coronavirus. Having passed the supplemental budget three weeks ago, it is imperative that the legislature move without delay to keep Missouri’s government operating during this crisis and provide the needed resources to those on the front lines of this pandemic.”
The supplemental budget bill contains funding that will keep state government functioning through the end of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30 of 2020. In addition to funding for the state’s efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, the bill contains funding for items ranging from early childhood education to services for seniors to enhanced access to care for uninsured children. The final version will contain additional federal dollars designed to help the state deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
When members return for the vote on the supplemental budget bill, they will practice appropriate social distancing to help minimize the risk of potential coronavirus exposure. The State Capitol has been closed to the public but will be opened while the legislature is in session. Members, essential staff and members of the public with an interest in the supplemental budget will only be admitted after having their temperature taken and answering questions to ensure they haven’t potentially been exposed to the virus.
During debate, members will remain in their offices until it is time to speak or vote on the bill. Leadership from both parties are working together to ensure members who want to speak on the bill will have the opportunity to enter the House Chamber one at a time to do so. Members will then be called individually to the House Chamber to vote.
The House and Senate plan to have the bill approved by Wednesday and on to the governor’s desk so that it can be signed into law. The public can view the discussion on the supplemental budget bill by visiting the House website at https://house.mo.gov/ and clicking the “Video” link.
Gov. Parson Announces Spending Restrictions to Ensure Balanced Budget
Because of the severe impact of COVID-19, the state has seen its once-healthy economic growth stagnate and is now expecting a significant revenue decline. In order to ensure the budget remains balanced and the state will have the funds necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Mike Parson this week announced $180 million in expenditure restrictions.
The governor’s restrictions include reduced funding for several state departments including the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, Department of Transportation, Office of Administration, Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Economic Development, among others. The Judiciary and Secretary of State also worked to identify savings in their own budgets that can be restricted.
The House Budget Committee chairman expressed his appreciation for Parson making the difficult decision to restrict expenditures and said, “They were necessary to ensure the state can provide essential government services and be as prepared as possible to deal with the pandemic throughout the rest of the fiscal year.”
The governor’s office anticipates the additional federal funding that will be contained in the supplemental budget bill will help the state deal with the projected budget shortfall.
A complete list of the governor’s expenditure restrictions can be viewed at the following link: https://oa.mo.gov/budget-planning/budget-information/2020-budget-information.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. Even though the Capitol is closed, we are monitoring the phone calls and emails on a regular basis. As your Representative I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Chris.Dinkins@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-2112.
Chris Dinkins is the area’s state representative for the 144th Legislative District. She can be reached by email – Chris.Dinkins@house.mo.gov or by telephone: 573-751-2112.