A freshman Democratic lawmaker from St. Louis has his first major victory: persuading the Republican-controlled Missouri House to restore funding for a jobs program that Gov. Eric Greitens wants to cut entirely.
The amendment sponsored by Bruce Franks would put $6 million toward the state’s youth summer jobs program in St. Louis and Kansas City.
"They come from the highest crime areas, who are the most at risk," Franks said. "That's 2,700 youths off the streets, doing something productive, and following this comprehensive approach."
GOP House leaders and Franks found the money in another social services program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, which doesn't need as much funding next year because of a drop in cases.
He also said he wants to see the youth summer jobs program expanded to rural areas of Missouri soon.
"Disenfranchisement doesn't have a color, but it does have a class," Franks said. "Most of that time that class is poor, and poverty doesn't know color."
During floor debate earlier this week, Franks told his House colleagues that the program does a lot more than just provide jobs for kids: "They got so many other aspects, they got life coaches, they got mentors."
The Republican chair of the House budget committee, Scott Fitzpatrick of Shell Knob, urged everyone to support Frank's budget amendment, which passed unanimously on a voice vote.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay also praised Franks.
"Losing that money would be devastating to a lot of families and a lot of young people who have been relying on those kind of opportunities in the summer and who may not have any place else to turn, particularly in our more distressed neighborhoods in the city of St. Louis," Slay said.
It’s not clear whether the funding measure will make it through the Missouri Senate, which must approve the budget before it can be sent to the governor for his approval or rejection.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport