Missouri lawmakers return to Capitol to pass supplemental budget

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Capitol's halls usually filled with lobbyists and legislative aides are mostly empty.

Many are cordoned off from visitors, and the public still isn't allowed back inside. The building has been closed to the general public since March 24.

Tuesday was the first day Senators were back on the floor. Representatives return Wednesday.

Those lawmakers, their staffs, and reporters are all screened every time they enter the building. They're asked a series of health related questions, their temperatures are checked at the door, and they're given a mask before they enter.

It's voluntary to wear inside, but many senators chose to wear them.

These precautions are all so the Senate and House can pass a supplemental budget - allocating roughly $5.8 billion in additional funding to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Senator Bill Eigel of St. Charles County has some concerns.

"We're putting pretty big line items into this supplementary budget with relatively little clarity on how it will be spent," Eigel said.

He admitted Tuesday there might be a reason for that.

"We don't know how much money and when we're going to have it," Eigel added.

Despite the concerns, Dan Haug, the State's Budget Director explained why the appropriations need to happen now.

"If we have to spend immediately, we have some GR [general revenue] funds in there," Haug said. "We hope that ultimately it will be federal funds that we can spend there, but we don't want to get in the place where because we didn't put appropriation authority in a certain space, that we can't provide responses to COVID-19."

The Missouri House is expected to vote on the senate's amendments to the supplemental budget Wednesday.

Right now, there is no word on when the legislative session will resume for policy work or next year's budget.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.