Missouri Senate Passes $1.27 Billion Supplemental Budget
2020 has presented a host of challenges. From a pandemic, to an economic slowdown, to the beginning steps of recovery, it’s no secret things have been tough. State lawmakers have been working to help our state respond to these new challenges. Earlier this spring, legislative activity in Jefferson City came to a halt as we first began grappling with the spread of COVID-19. Eventually, we were able to return to the State Capitol to carry out the people’s work. We passed a balanced state budget, as well as several pieces of priority legislation. More recently, lawmakers have been working to ensure there are enough resources at our deposal to handle COVID-19 in an extra session called by the governor.
On Dec. 2, the Missouri Senate approved and sent to the governor a $1.27 billion supplemental budget, with the bulk of the funding coming from the federal government. Supplemental budgets allow the General Assembly to provide extra funding and make other adjustments as needed to the state operating budget passed earlier in the year. With the state receiving additional funding and new guidance from the federal government on how to spend funds from relief packages like the CARES Act, this budget helps ensure all funding is appropriated and can be used before the end of the year. Because the federal dollars must be spent by the end of the year or otherwise returned to Washington D.C., it was important for the Legislature to act and ensure these resources are available to those in need throughout the state.
Naturally, a large part of the supplemental budget goes toward combatting COVID-19. For instance, $764 million has been allocated to the State Emergency Management Agency to help with its continued efforts regarding the pandemic. An additional $134 million has been appropriated to help with contact tracing and testing throughout our state. The supplemental budget also appropriates additional resources to help struggling Missourians through a variety of other line items. Under the supplemental budget, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will receive more than $75 million in federal funding to help feed students. The budget also includes support for workforce development and community development block grant programs.
While work on the extra session is now done, there remains an issue posed during session yet to be resolved. In mid-November, after making his initial call for the extra session, the governor expanded his call to include legislation that would grant medical professionals, businesses, schools and others liability protections from lawsuits related to COVID-19. This legislation began making its way through the legislative process in the Senate, but in the end, the governor asked lawmakers to layover the bill until the start of the 2021 legislative session. This will give the General Assembly more time to discuss this proposal and draft a bill that rises to the challenges of our time.
The upcoming 2021 legislative session is slated to begin in January. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the year ahead to help move our state forward.
Please feel free to contact my office in Jefferson City at (573) 751-1464. For information about committees or sponsored legislation for the 2020 session, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Cierpiot.