Missouri House studies Parson’s plan to spend $1.27B in federal pandemic aid


The Missouri House Budget Committee Monday poured through Gov. Mike Parson’s proposed plan to spend $1.27 billion in federal pandemic assistance during the third day of a special session to amend the state’s $35 billion Fiscal Year 2021 budget.

During afternoon hearings before the panel, chaired by Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, state department and agency chiefs testified about their most urgent needs after suffering significant slashes in allocations since the pandemic skewered their budgets.

The 163-member House, which includes at least 46 lame duck lawmakers who will not serve in the 2021 Legislature, convened Thursday and is scheduled to mull Parson’s supplemental budget request through Tuesday.

The 34-member Senate will convene its special session to review Parson’s budget request Nov. 19-20.

In Parson’s request outlining his proposed allocation for the remaining $1.2 billion from the $3 billion in CARES Act money the state received in March, the Governor’s Office is seeking more than $764 million in state and federal funds for pandemic relief, mostly for child support aid, job training grants and school nutrition services.

Parson’s office is asking for $140 million for testing, tracing, reporting and other expenses related to mitigating the virus; $75 million in federal stimulus for school districts to pay for school lunch programs; $34 million for the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to pay for unemployment assistance programs.

Parson’s funding request also includes $2 million in state and federal funding to pay for a pre-trial witness protection fund created by lawmakers.

Smith has filed 19 appropriations bills for the special session, including House Bill 14, which includes $764.35 million for the Governor’s Office, essentially replicating Parson’s budget request.

Under the broad outlines of HB 14:

  • the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) would receive at least $141 million
  • the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TASNF) program would receive $96.8 million
  • $75.66 million would go to the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) School Nutrition Services Program (SNAP) to reimburse schools for school food programs
  • $40.1 million would be allocated to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR)
  • $23 million would be allocated to the Department of Economic Development
  • $5.2 million would go to the Department of Mental Health and the state’s pharmacy reimbursement allowance fund would see a $43 million boost.

Among those who appeared before the committee Monday was State Budget Director Dan Haug who, earlier Monday, announced Missouri’s revenue collections for 2021 fiscal year-to-date increased by more than 23 percent compared to October 2019, from $2.97 billion last year to $3.72 billion this year.

Missouri reported strong increases in revenue collections at the beginning of 2020, but revenue declined beginning in March as many businesses closed their doors or nearly two months. May’s report found a drastic decrease of 22.5 percent from the previous year.

Since then, revenues have been increasing, with the June report showing a 1-percent increase compared to the same time the year before; July showing a near-100 percent increase from the previous year.; August’s report citing continuing increases and September reporting a 3-percent increase over the previous year.

According to the state’s October revenues report, net general revenues have increased by 33.7 percent for the year, from $2.12 billion last year to $2.84 billion this year, largely due to the $3 billion in CARES Act money, of which $1.27 million will be allocated in this week’s special session.

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