For nearly two years, our state has received billions of dollars’ worth of funding from the federal government. Some of this money has been used to fill in the gaps from lost local or state revenue, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Missouri is receiving added assistance with the goal of looking at the long-term.
The Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee, which I chair, has started its role in helping craft the state’s operating budget for Fiscal Year 2023, which will start in July. When the governor unveiled his version of the budget earlier this month, he included one-time funding that comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA. This money, like the earlier COVID-related assistance, is designed to be used on one-time expenses. In other words, what states do with this funding is supposed to be used for projects that either need to be done once, or those that would finish long-needed repairs.
In Missouri’s case, ARPA funding would mainly be used for infrastructure improvements, such as broadband internet expansion, and water and sewer system upgrades. Many of the sewage treatment plants throughout northwest Missouri are approximately a century old, and were never designed to be used by the number of people who do right now. Our goal is to get these systems updated so they are able to serve larger numbers of people for the foreseeable future.
The governor has also recommended spending approximately $400 million to expand broadband internet to rural, unserved and underserved parts of our state. I have been a proponent of this idea for years, and this may be the best opportunity we have to get all of Missouri into the 21st century and on-par with some of our larger cities throughout the country.
As always, this extra funding means we will have to be more careful than usual with tending to the needs of everyone in our state. Unfortunately, it has taken a pandemic to cause us to look at the immediate and long-term needs in our lives. As chair of the Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to watch every dollar and ensure we spend this money in the best way possible for everyone who lives in our state.
As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.