Legislators work from home, discourage panic during pandemic

Earlier in the session, Sen. Dan Hegeman speaks to reporters during Missouri Press Association Day at the Capitol.

After months of study, discussion and hearing from people all over the state, the legislature has approved the state’s operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

As a result of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting together a blueprint for fiscal year 2021 has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life.

As chairman of the Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee, I can tell you dozens of people have spent hundreds of hours working to find the best way to construct a budget that funds state government and provides important services to the citizens of our state.

First and foremost, the FY 2021 budget fully funds the Foundation Formula for Missouri’s K-12 schools and holds funding for public higher education institutions the same as current levels.

The budget passed by the legislature also includes federal CARES Act funding. Within the budget, we provide the governor authority to provide up to $30 million in grants for small businesses and $20 million for Missouri meat processing plants from federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The budget also continues to provide increased funding for nursing home rates as these organizations continue to deal with the COVID-19 virus. In an attempt to reduce spending, next year’s budget eliminates numerous vacant positions in several state departments.

In addition, below are other areas receiving funding through the FY 2021 state budget:

• full year of funding for county prisoner per diem rates;

• funding to eliminate the current fiscal year waiting list for the developmentally disabled;

• $12 million in federal funding for the expansion of broadband internet services;

• $26 million in funding for opioid treatment services;

• $33 million for Area Agencies on Aging;

• up to $35 million in federal funding for rural hospitals; and

• $12 million in funding for water resources and infrastructure.

The legislature has also given the governor flexibility to use federal funds for cash flow purposes to make sure our state has the ability to pay tax refunds and our bills despite the delayed tax date in July.

Fiscal Year 2021 will start on July 1. Between now and then, lawmakers may have to come back to Jefferson City to address any new issues, whether revenues get worse or we receive additional federal help. Rest assured, I will be working extremely hard to keep Missouri ready for anything that comes our way.

Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, represents District 12 in the Missouri Senate. His constituency includes part of Clay County including Kearney. Hegeman can be reached at (573) 751-1415 or dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov. state

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