Missouri is set to get billions from the federal government, but the federal stimulus package has raised a lot of questions with few answers.
House Speaker Ron Richard (R-Joplin) met with Senate President Pro Temp Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) and Governor Nixon Monday. Richard said the governor discussed his Transform Missouri Initiative and gave a broad outline of how he would like the federal stimulus funds to be spent. Richard said none left the meeting with a clear handle on what impact the $787 billion federal stimulus package will have on Missouri.
"We don’t know how the grant process works," Richard told Capitol reporters. "The governor didn’t really understand it either, but he said he would be more than happy to get us information. He said his staff is trying to decipher it, too."
Missouri is expected to receive approximately $4.3 billion. That money will be spread over a variety of programs and services. Part of the federal stimulus money can be spent by the governor without legislative approval. Richard says he has no intention of interfering.
"We’re not one to usurp his (Governor Nixon) authority," said Richard.
House leaders will concentrate on monies designated for state budget stabilization and economic stimulus.
House Budget Committee Chairman Allen Icet (R-Wildwood) says his staff is pouring over the federal bill.
"The real challenge is to get our hands around what requirements does the federal government have such that we can access the money," said Icet.
Icet plans to segregate the money to better track how it is spent.