We often hear the Missouri may be one of the most diverse states in the nation. That’s why equity is such an important part of decision making. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article today on a working group appointed by Governor Parson charged with recommending how billions of dollars of federal stimulus money will be spent when it arrives. Parson formed this group back on April 10 but few other details have been made public. However, he did name State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick to head up the group’s work. Other members include representatives from the Office of Administration’s budget and planning team as well as from the governor’s office.
Serious Money for a Serious Crisis. Equity’s Essential.
The working group will have a big job on its hands. These individuals will decide how to spend nearly $3.5 billion dollars in the coming months. That’s no small task, considering the state’s general revenue for fiscal year 2020 was just shy of $10 billion. Another $10 billion already comes from the federal government, and almost another $10 billion comes from “other” funds for a total operating budget of nearly $30 billion for this year.
Based on the information we’ve received so far, $1 billion will go to local governments across the state to aid them in their COVID-19 recovery/relief efforts. The feds have earmarked another $1.5 billion for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and nearly $900 million will go to the State Emergency Management Agency.
The Optics Don’t Suggest Equity.
We have nothing personal against the individuals Governor Parson has chosen to serve on this working group. We’re sure they’re fine people who have the best intentions for our great state. The problem is optics. There are no women in this group. There are no people of color. Only white Republican men are making decisions on behalf of 6 million Missouri residents. That’s not a good idea.
While it’s true that Missouri is 83% white, nearly 12% are African American and just over 4% are Hispanic or Latino, according to the US Census Bureau figure. Moreover, nearly 51% of Missouri residents are women. More than 13% of the people living in Missouri were identified as living in poverty, and that was before the COVID-19 crisis hit. We also have a mix of urban, suburban, and rural households in the state.
We urge Governor Parson to reconsider the composition of his working group to better reflect Missouri and Missourians.
OneMissouri is committed to research, education, advocacy, and policy development on behalf of all Missourians.
Top Graphic Credit: Pixabay