The Senate Leadership COVID-19 relief plan unveiled yesterday doesn’t meet the needs of Missouri families and doesn’t address our unprecedented state fiscal crisis, which means it will make the recession longer and more painful, Amy Blouin, president and CEO of the Missouri Budget Project said in a statement today.
“The public health crisis and resulting recession has hit Missouri hard. 317,000 Missourians received unemployment benefits the week of June 27th. Even those who have returned to jobs are struggling with reduced wages and hours. In fact, nearly 1 of every 10 Missourians, including 1 of every 10 Missouri kids, didn’t have enough to eat in the last month; and 1 of every 4 households that rent have fallen behind in their rent payments.
This crisis is bigger than any in our lifetime, but the Senate Leadership proposal doesn’t meet the needs of our state or the moment.
There is no increase in SNAP benefits to help people buy food for themselves and their families, no funding for homelessness services or additional rental vouchers, and and substantially less money for laid-off workers even though the growth of COVID cases continues to spike, meaning many people are unlikely to be able to return to work soon.
What’s more, the plan does not include nearly enough aid to state and local governments to prevent painful cuts that result in the layoffs of teachers, first responders, child care workers, contractors working on infrastructure projects, and the loss of public services that will make it all the more difficult for our communities to recover from this recession.
Governor Parson has already been forced to cut $800 million from the state budget since March, impacting schools, mental health and child welfare workers. These cuts are just the tip of the iceberg. Missouri Budget Project estimated that without federal assistance, state general revenue will drop by $1.3 billion in Fiscal Years 2020-2021 combined, followed by a decrease of $1.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2022. The amount is in comparison to a $10 billion state general revenue budget.
We ask Senators Blunt and Hawley to put Missourians first by calling on Congressional leaders to do more and pass a stronger relief package, especially for state and local governments and low-income Missourians who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic and are facing the greatest financial hurdles.”
Amy Blouin, president & CEO, Missouri Budget Project
New research released last week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows the number of people struggling to get enough to eat has increased dramatically and a huge number of people are falling behind on rent — just as the national moratorium on evictions expires.
During negotiations on the next COVID response bill, Congress must prioritize support for people hard-hit by the crisis by making sure they get the help they need and work to prevent states, cities, and towns from making deep budget cuts that will hurt tens of millions.
Missouri Budget Project is calling on Congress to immediately negotiate a bipartisan agreement that:
- Provides additional federal funding for Medicaid programs and direct grants to states, territories, and tribes to protect core public services such as education, health and mental health and transportation, in addition to aid for local governments;
- Temporarily increases SNAP benefits and housing assistance so people can get enough to eat and keep a roof over their heads;
- Temporarily makes the Child Tax Credit available to the lowest-income children and expands the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-paid workers not raising kids in their homes;
- Creates an emergency fund for states to help people who are falling through the cracks and to create subsidized jobs programs when workers can participate safely; and
- Continues expanded unemployment benefits.
A comprehensive response package will help to mitigate the effects of the recession on communities and Missourians throughout our state.
The Missouri Budget Project is a nonprofit public policy analysis organization that analyzes state budget, tax, and economic issues.