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Government, Politics & Issues

Missouri Governor Touts Economic Recovery, Frees Up Education Funding

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Jaclyn Driscoll
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Gov. Mike Parson, shown at a press briefing in August where he was also touting lower unemployment rates, said Missouri's economy is improving more than expected.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson returned to his normal schedule this week, emerging from isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus to tout the state’s economic recovery on Wednesday.

Parson announced he would be releasing $133 million back into the state’s budget after the funds were originally withheld due to the state’s grim economic outlook as the coronavirus left thousands jobless.

“We are outpacing our projected budget forecast, and we are now in a position to release some of the funding that was restricted earlier this year,” Parson said at his weekly press briefing. “We are excited to be able to announce these funds today and will continue to evaluate our budget and spending as we move forward.”

Nearly $95 million of that money is from the federal government, and $40 million is from the state’s general revenue fund. Parson said roughly $100 million will be allocated to support K-12 and higher education.

Parson said he is able to release these funds because of the confidence in the economy. He said Missouri is ranked 12th in the nation for job recovery after the virus and is rebounding better than expected.

“Missouri recently scored the highest in the nation in the business condition index, which measures employer confidence in the economy over the next three to six months,” Parson said.

While the governor emphasized the state’s economic recovery, Missouri also reached a new high for hospitalizations from the virus. This rate has steadily increased since early September, according to data from the Department of Health and Senior Services.

As of Tuesday, the seven-day average for hospitalizations was 1,176. The dashboard also shows that, in the past seven days, there have been nearly 9,000 cases of the virus and 56 deaths.

Parson continues to emphasize the importance of looking at all of the data associated with the coronavirus, saying believes well over 100,000 Missourians have recovered since receiving a positive test.

“That doesn’t mean the underlying conditions aren’t there, which is another thing that’s very misleading,” Parson said. “If you have other diseases, those could still be there. I don’t have any doubt that well over 100,000 people have recovered from this virus in this state.”

Both Parson and Dr. Randall Williams, the state health director, said the department is not able to include recoveries on the dashboard because the data doesn’t exist; it would be an estimate.

“You’ve seen reports of people that have longer symptoms,” Williams said. “We don’t think that’s a majority by any means, it’s a minority. But I think those studies will be ongoing to see how many people continue to have, for instance, muscle aches or vertigo or fatigue.”

Williams said health experts will continue to monitor how people recover from the virus.

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