Monday, the General Assembly gaveled in to pass a budget proposal over to the Senate. Also, several committees met to hear bills that will possibly make it into law during the next two weeks. On Wednesday, the House did pass out a budget plan with the Senate planning to pick it up during the latter part of the week. A short summary follows.
House Passes Budget
On Wednesday, the House passed the 13 bills that make up the core budget for the state. As you might expect, cuts were the order of the day, with total spending numbers being reduced by approximately $750 million. All areas received some cuts. The following are just a few samples:
•Unfortunately, public colleges and universities receive an overall reduction of 10 percent.
•A proposed $7 million cut to public K-12 school busing was revised to $2.2 million.
•The governor retains the authority to spend close to $1.3 billion in federal funds on the State Emergency Management Agency’s response to COVID-19, including building new sites to care for patients and buying ventilators if needed.
•Other federal aid in the budget includes $90 million for nursing homes if COVID-19 is detected
•More federal aid: $66 million for child care providers.
•Although the minority party called for Medicaid Expansion, the majority turned this down as unfeasible in a time of drastic revenue shortfalls. The Missouri Constitution provides that a budget will be passed by May 8.
Governor Announces First Phase of “Show Me Strong Recovery” Plan
The same day the Missouri House returned to Jefferson City to work on the state operating budget, Gov. Mike Parson announced the first phase of the “Show Me Strong Recovery” Plan. The governor’s plan outlines how Missouri will gradually begin to reopen economic and social activity on Monday, May 4, 2020.
“With favorable data and approval from state health officials, we are ready to take another step forward in the recovery of Missouri,” said Parson, who noted the plan will begin Monday, May 4, and extend through Sunday, May 31.The governor’s “Show Me Strong Recovery” Plan is designed to protect those most at risk of exposure to COVID-19 while returning Missouri to a new normal. The plan will:
1.Expand testing capacity and volume in the state
2.Expand reserves of PPE by opening public and private supply chains
3.Continue to monitor and, if necessary, expand hospital and health care system capacity, including isolation and alternate care facilities for those that cannot self-quarantine at home
4.Improve ability to predict potential outbreaks using Missouri's public health data
The governor said that during phase one of the plan, citizens will be able to return to economic and social activities. However, citizens must adhere to social distancing requirements, including maintaining six feet of space between individuals in most cases. Under phase one, there are no limitations on social gatherings as long as necessary precautions are taken and six feet of distance can be maintained between individuals.
Phase one of the governor’s plan also allows all businesses to be open provided that the social distancing guidelines are followed. Some businesses will be required to take additional precautions to protect their employees and the public, such as occupancy limits at retail locations.
Parson said, “All of Missouri’s businesses, employers, and employees are vital to our state’s economy and well-being. Opening these businesses is going to look very different for awhile, but I’m confident Missourians will abide by the guidelines as we move forward.”
The governor emphasized that some communities may be able to reopen at a faster rate than others. Local officials will have the authority to put further rules, regulations, or ordinances in place so long as they are not inconsistent with the statewide order.
Even as Missouri gradually reopens, citizens are encouraged to continue taking precautions to protect themselves and others:
•Stay home if sick
•Wash hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer
•Avoid touching your face
•Sneeze or cough into a tissue or the inside of elbow
•Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces
•Avoid socializing in groups that do not readily allow for appropriate social distancing
•Minimize travel to the extent possible
Additionally, all businesses are encouraged to do the following:
•Implement basic infection prevention measures informed by industry best practices
•Modify physical workspaces to maximize social distancing
•Minimize business travel
•Develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan
•Do not allow symptomatic people to physically return to work until cleared by a medical provider
•Encourage telework whenever possible and feasible with business operations
•Return to work in phases and/or split shifts
•Limit access to common areas where personnel are likely to congregate and interact
•Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance
For more information on the “Show Me Strong Recovery” Plan, please visit ShowMeStrong.Mo.Gov.
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.