State budget sees changes in child care, I-70 expansion funding | State News

State budget sees changes in child care, I-70 expansion funding | State News

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House Budget Committee met Thursday to markup 14 appropriations bills that make up the fiscal year 2024 state budget. 

As of Thursday morning, the general revenue was reduced by more than $1.5 billion and more than $1.8 billion from Gov. Mike Parson’s budget proposal in January, according to budget revisions submitted by Committee Chairman Rep. Cody Smith (R-Carthage).

The budget revisions were submitted on Tuesday, and amendments were presented to the committee on Thursday. Well over 100 amendments were submitted by committee members. Smith said that his goal is to conclude markups of the 14 bills by Thursday night, but by lunch recess at 1 p.m., the committee hadn’t even made it through House bill 2. 

From Parson’s budget recommendations, three areas have seen significant budget changes, including child care, Interstate 70 expansion and education initiatives.

From Parson’s proposal, more than $85 million were removed from child care subsidies through the Office of Childhood. Smith said this was because of flaws he was made aware of in a study. He said the committee has been working with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Office of Childhood to bring more certainty.

In the meantime, Smith moved to allocate $50 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) child care fund as a placeholder for child care subsidies. 

“This is leveraging federal dollars in potentially what is one of the highest and best uses and especially when we have so many of them [ARPA funds],” Smith said. 

The amendment moved forward, with only some hesitation over making sure that the general revenue is adjusted next year to pickup when the ARPA funding runs out. 

“The fact is, we don’t want this to be one time and we want to express that as clearly as possible,” Rep. Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis) said. 

Another amendment the committee discussed was proposed by Rep. Doug Richey (R-Excelsior Springs). He suggested removing nearly $19 million from education social groups, such as the MO Health Schools – Core DESE Federal Fund.

“There’s just a lot of social consternation on both sides of this particular issue, and I just think it’s going to require some time to work with the department on what they’re trying to accomplish,” Richey said. 

The amendment was moved forward, but Rep. Raychel Proudie (D-Ferguson) said she was opposed. 

“I’m profoundly uncomfortable inserting any type of partisan politics and commodifying education that is not focused on what’s going on in the classroom for these children,” Proudie said.

The committee reconvenes at 3 p.m. Thursday. Smith said his goal is to finish markups by Thursday night so that the bills reach the House floor next week. 

Check back for updates to this developing story.

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