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Missouri House passes budget bill containing raises for state workers

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, in a blue suit, addressed a joint meeting of the House and Senate
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Gov. Mike Parson, pictured in January, spoke on the need for state worker raises during his State of the State address. Members of the House passed a bill containing those raises on Monday. It now goes to the Senate.

Missouri state workers are closer to seeing an increase in their paychecks as a supplemental budget makes its way through the legislature.

The measure includes an 8.7% cost-of-living increase for state workers. It also allows for some workers to earn an additional $2 an hour if they work late night or overnight shifts in some state departments.

The House voted 151-2 to pass the supplemental budget. The legislation now goes to the Senate.

Not included are raises for state elected officials, which were originally in the bill.

Gov. Mike Parson announced his recommendation for state worker raises in January and reiterated his commitment to them during his State of the State address.

House Budget Chair Cody Smith, R-Carthage, said the bill includes $20 million for school safety grants and $275 million in spending authority for the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency.

Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, said that he appreciated the money for the safety grants but that it won’t stop school shootings from happening.

“Turning our schools into prisons or castles, frankly, it's not going to stop people from getting inside,” Merideth said. “And until we do something about the root causes of why the violence is happening in the first place, this $20 million isn't going to go very far.”

Another expense is almost $629,000 for black vulture mitigation. Sen. Lincoln Hough, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, sought that money out.

The vultures attack young livestock.

The bill amounts to almost $627 million with around $121 million of it coming from general revenue.

Merideth said he wants the state to do more to increase state employee pay in future budget bills. He said if lawmakers felt that the state had enough revenue to support the tax cut passed last year, then they have enough revenue to keep up with inflation.

Smith defended the legislation, including the amount in it, before the vote.

“When I started here, 2017 was my first year, the state budget was less than $30 billion. The governor's recommendations this year are over $50 billion, and so we have to make trade-offs. Unfortunately, we can't spend our way out of all society's problems,” Smith said.

Sarah Kellogg has been the Missouri Statehouse and politics reporter for St. Louis Public Radio since 2021.

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