The House Interim Committee on Disaster Recovery has decided to recommend using the state’s Rainy Day Fund to pay for recovery in Joplin and other places hit by floods and tornadoes this year. Committee Chair Representative Shane Schoeller says the committee will also recommend an oversight committee.
He says the state will probably not have enough money to pay for all the cleanup and recovery. Relying on the Rainy Day Fund alone is tricky because the legislature is required to pay it back within three years, and Schoeller says with the budget forecast, that doesn’t look like it will be easy to do.
Schoeller says he wants the Governor to ask the legislature in special session for spending authority to dip into the Rainy Day Fund. Schoeller says he thinks special session will be in September, near or at the same time as the veto session.
Before coming to this decision, the committee heard from State Budget Director Linda Leubbering. She says its important for the State to have a disaster relief plan. Linda Leubbering says it’s not certain how much the federal government will give, so Missouri needs to be certain it can pay its part.
Leubbering says the recovery will be in two parts; short and long-term. Short term things like debris removal need to be handled right away with whatever money is available. But she says Missouri can also offer to pay for the long-term fixes, such as new schools and roads, which won’t carry such a high bill right away.
Leubbering says the Rainy Day Fund is a fine place to start, but other sources should be considered. She says a tax increase will probably not be one of them. Cutting spending and bond issues were discussed by the Interim House Committee on Disaster Relief. The Governor and leading lawmakers have all been vocally opposed to tax increases.