Greetings, My Fellow Missourians
With the recent COVID-19, the break down in the supply chain of the beef and pork into retail stores for consumers to purchase has been obvious. Over the past several weeks we’ve seen a short supply, the choices are limited and what is available is expensive. This problem was brought on by not having enough workers in meat processing plants. Fortunately, now we are starting to see things come back to normal but we need to safeguard Missouri’s beef and pork industry for the future.
This past session we took steps to try to ensure a return to normal. Twenty million dollars, from the federal coronavirus stimulus funding, was set aside in the state’s budget for meatpacking plants. This change to the Missouri budget will begin July 1st and will give Governor Parson’s administration the authority to spend up to twenty million to aid Missouri’s struggling meatpacking and producing plants.
It is important to remember that COVID-19 doesn’t spread through food but can easily be spread through meatpacking plant employees that need to work very closely to each other. Social distancing is not an option in some of these facilities. If our food production industry has to shut down, our food supply with cease.
Senator Justin Brown would like to see some of the funding to be put to use for masks and personal protective gear for the employees and he would like to see smaller plant operations expanded. Legislators plan to put restrictions on how the money will be used on the budgeting process. All of these decisions will be worked out between the House and Senate.
On Tuesday, I tuned into a very informational webinar, “Intersection of the Cattle and Beef Industries”. They discussed the many issues facing the beef industry. They used scientific, evidence based facts and economic numbers, in hopes to empower people and drive change into the industry. If you would like to learn more visit their website and register to join in.
Register in advance for this webinar: https://ndsu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_rZva-5CDScK3yTOJwibNSw.
Declining revenues necessitate additional expenditure restrictions
While the legislature and the executive branch have worked diligently to protect funding for Missouri’s most vital programs, the continued economic decline that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic has forced lawmakers to find areas in the state budget to make spending restrictions. Gov. Parson announced $227 million in spending restrictions in April, and recently announced another $220 million in reductions in order to bring the current operating budget into balance.
The governor noted that the state is dealing with dramatic declines in jobs and revenues. The state saw a loss of more than 300,000 jobs between March and April. Where the state had previously been at near-historic lows for unemployment at under 4 percent, the state saw the unemployment rate jump to 9.7 percent in April. The state has also seen revenues decline by more than $575 million compared to last year.
Parson said, “We could have never imagined that this is where we would be today, but we’ve had to face the reality of the situation and make some extremely difficult decisions regarding our state budget.”
To bring the current budget into balance, Parson announced reduced funding for the Office of Administration, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Of the $209 million in expenditure restrictions, more than $41 million comes from the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development and more than $131 million from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“I have always been a strong supporter of education, and these were extremely difficult decisions I never thought I would have to make. As difficult as these decisions are, we are experiencing an unprecedented economic downturn, which means we are having to make unprecedented adjustments in our budget,” said Parson. He added, “It is important to make these decisions now so school districts can adjust before next school year.”
Parson also announced that the state will utilize $187 million in federal CARES Act funds to help a majority of school districts in the short term.
A full list of the expenditure restrictions can be viewed at this link: https://oa.mo.gov/budget-planning/budget-information/2020-budget-information.
Interim hours: Now that Session is over for 2020, I will be back in District full time. If you need any assistance my Legislative Assistant Amy Helton will be happy to help you Monday-Thursday.