Missouri Minute: Parson signs $35.3 billion budget; Businesses to pay for review of St. Louis County police

Good morning, MBA readers,

As Missouri opens a new fiscal year Wednesday, state officials are bracing for further fiscal fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday signed a $35.3 billion budget for the new year, withholding $449 million and vetoing items totaling $11 million. State Budget Director Dan Haug called it “the most difficult budget” he’s seen in 25 years of devising state spending plans. In St. Louis, Mayor Lyda Krewson said she will not resign and will run for reelection. She has been the target of recent protests for publicly disclosing the names and addresses of people who wrote to her in support of defunding the police. Across the state in Kansas City, the parks board has voted to rename a fountain and street named for the late developer J.C. Nichols. The names had come under scrutiny because Nichols, who was behind several prominent residential and commercial developments in Kansas City, used racially restrictive covenants that created segregated neighborhoods in the city.


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Parson signs $35.3 billion budget, restricts $449 million
Gov. Mike Parson finalized the state’s spending plan for the fiscal year that starts Wednesday. He withheld about $449 million from the budget lawmakers had passed, citing revenue hits from the coronavirus, and vetoed another $11 million planned spending. The biggest restrictions came to K-12 education and higher education. (Columbia Missourian)

Businesses to pay for review of St. Louis County police
Two former police chiefs will conduct the review. It will be funded by the Regional Business Council and member companies of Civic Progress, an organization of top executives in St. Louis. The announcement resulted in backlash against County Executive Sam Page, who police officials say did not notify them of the proceeding. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri to offer loans to small cities
The program approved Tuesday by a state board aims to provide relief from the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus. It will allow the government to send loans of up to $300,000 to cities with populations under 25,000. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis mayor doesn’t plan to resign
A spokesperson said Mayor Lyda Krewson would not resign and would seek reelection. The St. Louis mayor has faced protests and calls to step down after a live stream in which she disclosed the names and addresses of people who sent her letters calling to defund the police. Krewson has since apologized. (KSDK)

St. Louis hospitals relax visitor restrictions 
Restrictions installed at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic have been rolled back by the four largest health systems in St. Louis. BJC HealthCare, Mercy, St. Luke’s Hospital and SSM Health are now allowing one to two visitors per patient in most cases. They had all banned most visitors starting in March. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Washington University cuts contributions to employee retirement plans
The St. Louis school has temporarily suspended its contributions to its employees’ retirement plans in a move it says will help to bring back furloughed workers and protect compensation for faculty and staff. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Missouri Supreme Court rules state must pay Planned Parenthood 
The court ruled that legislators violated the state constitution when they attempted to stop all government funding of the reproductive health care provider. The state must now pay Planned Parenthood for Medicaid patients that it sees. (Associated Press)

Manufacturer invests in $3 million St. Charles expansion
Holtec Gas Systems, a designer and manufacturer of advanced nitrogen generators, will spend $3 million to purchase and update a facility in St. Charles after moving out of its facility in Chesterfield. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Centene subsidiary to acquire 54,000 members
Meridian Health Plan, a subsidiary of Clayton-based Centene, will acquire the members from NextLevel Health Partners in Illinois. The deal is expected to close in July. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


Say that again

“I had the thought that maybe this was going to be the resurgence of rural grocery stores.”

That’s Lorin Fahrmeier, a University of Missouri Extension agent and co-owner of Fahrmeier Farms in Lexington, describing how local stores have started keeping staple products to bridge gaps in the food supply since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Social distancing has compelled several local grocers and food producers like her to adapt and move their businesses online. Fahrmeier came up with the idea for Missouri Food Finder, a resource that connects consumers with locally grown products. When it launched in April, the map showed 40 producers. Now, 250 farmers, growers and local suppliers have registered themselves on the site with information about their food, hours, delivery options and location.


Go figure

280,000 

That’s the number of properties in Missouri that are at risk of flood damage, according to a report by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research group focused on flood risk. That figure is nearly twice the number estimated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, St. Louis Public Radio reports. The predictions have increased after accounting for the effects of climate change and covering areas of the state that are not on FEMA’s flood maps, according to the First Street Foundation. Over the next 30 years, the number of homes and businesses at risk of flood damage in Missouri could increase by 1.8%, or 5,200 properties. In St. Louis alone, 13,000 properties are at risk of flood damage, the report found.


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Several Kansas City residents praised the city’s parks board for its unanimous vote to remove the name of the late developer J.C. Nichols from a fountain and street in the Country Club Plaza. The decision to remove the name followed recent anti-racism protests held in the area, The Kansas City Star reports. The board voted Tuesday, hours after the family of J.C. Nichols and its charity, the Miller Nichols Charitable Trust, expressed support for renaming the statue and street. Nichols, who developed the Plaza and other nearby neighborhoods during the first half of the 20th century, has been criticized in recent years for his use of deed restrictions that kept Black people from owning property in white neighborhoods. The Nichols family and foundation have donated $100,000 to the City of Fountains Foundation for the maintenance of the iconic Kansas City fountain.


Hello, my name is

Chef Collective KC 

That is the name of a group of chefs, farmers and food industry partners in the Kansas City region that are contributing to the Community Meals Project, Startland News reports. The project aims to meet the community’s food needs by supplying to and setting up community kitchens in the city. The organization’s goal is to produce and distribute 1 million free nutritious meals each week in an effort to reduce local food insecurity, which has intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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