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Missouri bill includes money for education, Medicaid expansion and raises for state employees

This Missouri State Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
This Missouri State Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson hopes the legislature will pass his proposed raises for state employees in time for them to go into effect in February.

Job turnover, vacancies and competition from the private sector are just some of the reasons Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and others want raises for all state employees.

Members of the House Budget Committee heard testimony on Monday from the Office of Administration on the pay increases as a part of a supplemental budget bill for the current fiscal year.

Parson in December announced his intent to include 5.5% cost-of-living adjustments, as well as a $15-an-hour minimum base pay standard, in his supplemental budget for the remainder of fiscal 2022.

State Budget Director Dan Haug told lawmakers the state’s goal is to have raises in place by Feb. 1, in part to show support for current workers.

“This pay increase is as much about retention as it is about attracting new people and filling those vacancies that we have,” Haug said.

He said the raises would not be funded by any one-time money that Missouri is receiving through the federal government.

“One of the things we have really tried hard in putting this overall budget together is using one-time funds for one-time items and not using those for ongoing items,” Haug said.

Most lawmakers who spoke about the raises expressed support. However, Rep. Scott Cupps, R-Shell Knob, expressed concern over making sure the raises go to state employees who really need it.

“We’re not doing anything to address it, because we’re not being real about the fact that we don’t have a clue if we’re actually delivering money to the right jobs,” Cupps said.

Rep. Maggie Nurrenbern, D-Kansas City, said the state’s current vacancies and turnover rate place a burden on existing state employees.

“What is the burden of the state of not doing this pay plan? Because there are functions of state government that we have to keep up and running, and if we’re not doing that, what does that actually cost the state?” Nurrenbern said.

Also listed in the supplemental bill is almost $2 billion in American Rescue Plan funding for Missouri public schools. Unlike other federal coronavirus aid that has an allocation deadline of the end of 2024, this funding needs to be mostly allocated by March 24.

The supplemental budget bill also includes funding for expanding Missouri’s Medicaid program, which despite a favorable state Supreme Court ruling is still facing objections from some legislators.

Copyright 2022 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Sarah Kellogg is St. Louis Public Radio’s Statehouse and Politics Reporter, taking on the position in August 2021. Sarah is from the St. Louis area and even served as a newsroom intern for St. Louis Public Radio back in 2015.
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