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House passes supplemental budget amid coronavirus fears

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After lengthy floor debate, the Missouri House passed a supplemental budget package Wednesday afternoon which included $40 million in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus pandemic. 

The package, HB 2014, was third read and passed in a 147-3 vote. The bill would allocate $33 million in federal relief funds in addition to the $7 million in state funds available from the declared state of emergency. 

At least two dozen people in Missouri have tested positive for COVID-19, and Gov. Mike Parson announced the first death shortly before the House voted on the package. The governor declared a state of emergency last week. 

House Democrats had attempted to attach additional provisions to HB 2014 from the floor Wednesday that would have freed up additional money to help mitigate economic impacts from COVID-19. House Budget Chair Cody Smith said those provisions would have “unbalanced the budget” overall. 

House Budget Chair Cody Smith (PROVIDED/TIM BOMMEL)

“What we did do today, by not adopting those amendments, was create a path where we could provide a little more than $40 million for relief on this effort through the end of June without unbalancing the budget,” Smith told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “If we need to do more than that in the short term, we have the opportunity to come back, but we collectively made the decision to not do more than that this time.” 

House Speaker Elijah Haahr said the supplemental budget includes greater provisions than what was requested by those in the health care industry during committee. 

“It’s no secret Democrats are really frustrated with the way today has played out,” Minority Leader Crystal Quade said. “We had many amendments ready to go that could have been put on the supplemental budget to address this [COVID-19] crisis, and unfortunately, Republican leadership did not accept any of them.” 

“Unfortunately, the bare minimum was done today, and it’s hard to find a word for the way that I know the way we are all feeling right now,” she continued. “I would say that for me I am ultimately disappointed in the fact that we as leaders in the Missouri House are not taking further action to put together a plan.” 

Democratic State Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal was the lone present vote Wednesday.

The House was expected to take up the full budget before the legislative spring break, but that has been delayed

The House was in technical session Thursday and on legislative spring break the following week. It is unclear when the House plans to reconvene again amid growing coronavirus concerns, House leadership said Wednesday. The Senate was adjourned for this week and will also not be in session next week. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.