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Senate committee passes supplemental budget bill

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With less than a month left before the end of session, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its first budget bill Monday.

HB 15 is a $1.5 billion supplemental budget bill appropriating funds for education, transportation, and workforce development, among other items. The bill passed the committee by a vote of 13-1 with Sen. Bill Eigel voting in opposition. Eigel pointed to educational funds earmarked for COVID-19 response early in the discussion.

“We’re discussing an enormous line item, and we really don’t have any visibility on what money will be spent on this,” Eigel said. “This is giving the authority to the executive branch to filter down through DESE and yet, we really don’t know what the money is going to be spent on. … It’s an estimate that gives us a number, but we don’t really know where the money is going to go.”

The state’s vaccination plan would receive more than $26.4 million in federal stimulus under the bill with $19.8 million going toward services and equipment — while Missouri’s testing services would be bolstered by nearly $3.05 million in federal funds. 

The bill includes funding for the state’s roads and bridges, a priority of Gov. Mike Parson and the legislature; the Transportation Construction Program will receive $100 million from the State Road Fund if the bill is approved. 

The Department of Mental Health would receive more than $37.6 million in federal funding for operating expenses. More than $37 million would go toward the Department of Social Services (DSS) Children’s Division for child subsidy payments for individuals with income falling below 150 percent of the federal poverty level for various services. 

Another provision would transfer $1.6 million from general revenue to the State Fair fund; the annual event is scheduled to return in full this year after 2020’s fair pivoted to a smaller Youth Livestock Show. Other departments benefitting from the bill include the departments of Revenue, Labor, and Public Safety. 

The bill would also appropriate funding for the state’s Medicaid program, with $51 million going toward physician services and more than $90 million earmarked for pharmaceutical payments. 

The committee also considered HB 1, HB 2, and HB 3 which cover funding for the Board of Fund Commissioners, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. The bills were marked up and will be further considered in committee this week. 

The measures passed through the House earlier this month as part of a $34.6 billion budget. Further public hearings are scheduled throughout the week; state law requires a balanced budget to pass by the end of the legislative session.