Lawmakers debate funding strategy to fight COVID-19

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri House voted in favor of giving Governor Parson’s administration the authority to spend additional money to fight the coronavirus. Much of that money would be federal dollars, expected to arrive soon.

On the House floor Wednesday, several Democrats introduced amendments that would have increased the spending authorization. They feel the state should be doing more.

House Budget Chairman Cody Smith (R-Carthage) told his fellow lawmakers the supplemental budget plan gives the governor the authority to spend $33 million in federal money and $7 million in state funds. He said spending priorities would include expanding testing and buying protective equipment for health officials and first responders.

“I have received multiple updates about the situation on the ground in Missouri and I have worked very closely with the state departments to try and understand with the need will be over the next several months in Missouri,” Smith said.

State Democrats wanted the body to approve the authorization to spend more.

“In my opinion, it is better to overreact,” said House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield). “It’s better to authorize the spending to give the governor the ability to have the money to look at and, if he chooses to withhold or we don’t spend it, that is a better place to be than doing nothing.”

Democrats said other states are doing more to fight COVID-19. Republicans argued authorizing additional spending could lead to an unbalanced budget.

The Missouri Senate will now take up the budget when they are expected to return from the legislative spring break on March 30.


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