Editor’s Note: Gov. Mike Parson said he signed the supplemental budget package on April 10.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Most lawmakers wore masks; many wore gloves. Everyone, including visitors, had their temperatures checked before walking into the Capitol. But by Wednesday afternoon, after just two days in session, the General Assembly greenlit a massive supplemental budget package as the coronavirus pandemic persists.
As the pandemic continues to rage on, it was almost inevitable that the supplemental package would grow exponentially, as it had, from an earlier version when only two dozen Missourians had tested positive for COVID-19.
Now, the package allocates more than $6.2 billion, the majority federal dollars even though it’s unclear just how much exactly Missouri is set to receive. Aside from providing for more personal protective equipment (PPE), the supplemental budget covers:
- $90 million in compensation for nursing homes while under an emergency declaration and to help with confirmed COVID-19 patients
- $66 million in childcare assistance
- $24 million for emergency food assistance and delivery programs
- $18 million for a utility assistance program for low-income households
- $11 million in funding for the Missouri National Guard as the governor has mobilized it to help deal with the pandemic
It also covers $1 billion in aid to cities and counties and nearly $2 billion in K-12 expenses.
The package includes about $5.6 billion in federal funding and more than $246 million from the general revenue. In comparison, the mid-March version only allocated $33 million in federal funds and $7 million in state money.
.@LtGovMikeKehoe joined @calebrowden and I for signing House Bills 2456 and 2014 to approve emergency funds. These bills now go to @GovParsonMO for final approval and implementation. This will provide billions to fight Covid 19. pic.twitter.com/otvptwpEar
— Dave Schatz (@DaveSchatz26) April 8, 2020
The legislature must appropriate relief money from the federal government before the governor can spend it.
“I’m glad that the General Assembly was able to meet today and start to direct these federal resources across the state to those who are in need of relief,” House Budget Chair Cody Smith, who shepherded the package through, told The Missouri Times Wednesday evening.
The House truly agreed to and finally passed the supplemental package in a 147-4 vote. Earlier Wednesday, the Senate passed it out in a 28-1 vote.
Sen. Gina Walsh, the former minority floor leader, was not in the Capitol to vote this week because she is self-quarantining after she said she was possibly exposed to coronavirus.
It was an eerie and extraordinary scene in the Capitol as lawmakers furiously worked to get the supplemental package through in just two days this week. Medical professionals from Capital Region Medical Center were stationed at all the entrances, checking temperatures and asking a series of questions pertaining to possible symptoms and exposure.
Most lawmakers donned face coverings, rubber gloves, or both. In the House, where legislators’ seats are more closely congregated, Speaker Elijah Haahr called representatives in small clusters to come to the floor to cast votes, the House floor generally empty.
But still, with all the precautions in place, the supplemental made it through. It will now head to the governor who said he will sign it “as soon as we can.”
It’s unclear when — or if — lawmakers will head back to the capital city to finish out session and tackle the full budget. Parson has teased the idea of bringing legislators in for a special session in the summer to handle the budget.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.