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Government, Politics & Issues

A budget bill containing raises for Missouri state employees hasn’t advanced in weeks

Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, speaks at a podium to press members during a news conference.
Sarah Kellogg
/
St. Louis Public Radio
State Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, speaks at a news conference on Monday about Democratic budget priorities.

An emergency supplemental budget bill that includes federal funding for schools and raises for all Missouri state employees appears stalled in committee.

Members of the House Budget Committee spent hours hearing testimony and discussing the proposed supplemental budget on Jan. 10. Since that hearing, no further action has taken place, while other budget bills have passed out of committee.

Gov. Mike Parson, Democrats and some Republicans have expressed support for raises for state employees. The governor in December announced his backing of a 5.5% cost-of-living adjustment, alongside a new $15-an-hour minimum base pay standard.

Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, who chairs the House Budget Committee, said he recognized the urgency and supported an early supplemental.

During a news conference outlining House Democratic spending priorities on Monday, Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, said he was extremely frustrated the supplemental budget has not been brought up for a vote in committee.

“We've heard no indication of a hearing being scheduled. I keep hoping, I keep looking at my phone to see if they've scheduled one yet. And they haven't,” Merideth said.

Smith was unavailable for comment regarding the status of the supplemental budget bill.

Parson reiterated his support for state employee raises during his State of the State address last week.

“The success of our state relies heavily on these public servants, and we must ensure we are able to recruit and retain quality team members to serve Missouri,” Parson said.

The day after the State of the State, Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said there is general support for the governor’s call for raises.

“We will discuss that and move forward on it. … We’ve just got to get competitive, and really got to fill some of these jobs out there,” Hegeman said.

In addition to raises, the emergency supplemental bill includes funding for the state’s Medicaid program as well as nearly $2 billion in federal funding for Missouri’s schools. The money for schools must be mostly allocated before March 24, which differs from other funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, which must be allocated by the end of 2024.

“We are hearing from school districts across the state that they're in a crisis mode, that most of them have spent down the funds they had from the previous allotment from the federal government, and they're waiting for these dollars, they need them right now,” Merideth said.

Instead, the committee heard testimony over a second supplemental budget bill Monday, one with a less stringent deadline. The committee also focused on the general budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Follow Sarah Kellogg on Twitter: @sarahkkellogg

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