JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Lawmakers in Jefferson City are moving forward with a budget plan for the state.
Early this morning a house committee approved a budget that includes funds to fight the coronavirus.
There is some debate here at the capitol over whether the virus should prompt the state to spend money it has in reserve.
House Budget Chair Cody Smith says a budget plan approved by his committee will give the state the authority to use federal dollars when they arrive.
House Budget Chair Cody Smith, (R) Carthage, said, “That would enable us to spend about $13 million in federal funds based on what we think we’re going to be getting from Washington for these relief efforts. In addition to that, due to his declaration of a state of emergency the governor is able to access about $7 million in already appropriated money that he can use for these purposes if he, if the administration should choose to.”
Some of the money is expected to be used to expand testing.
“Right now I know the governors office has prioritized making sure that we have adequate tests in the state and also making sure that we have adequate P-P-E or personal protective equipment. Those are the two things we want to accomplish first.”
State Rep. Deb Lavender, (D) Kirkwood, said. “My concern is there are state monies available to us in our budget reserves.”
Some democrats, including Committee Member State Rep. Deb Lavender believe the state reserves should be used now and then replaced when the federal funding arrives.
“We need to get money out to Missourians to help cover the cost of testing, to help cover the cost of healthcare, people who don’t have insurance, people who have large deductibles large co-pays we need to assure these people that it is OK for them to get tested from a financial point of view.”
“I think that at this time we need to proceed with caution when it comes to spending reserve funds at the state level. We need to be careful not to deplete our resources where we may need to supplement court functions of government like education, transportation, infrastructure with some of those supplemental funds,” said Smith.
The House is expected to approve the budget later this week. Then it heads to the Senate.
For now the Senate is scheduled to return to the capitol on March 30th