House Democrat Kip Kendrick

The State Treasurer’s Office says two Democrats – State Representative Kip Kendrick of Columbia and Senator Karla May of St. Louis – have joined Gov. Mike Parson’s coronavirus funding working group. Members are tasked with recommending to the governor the best way to spend $2.3 billion in federal money to combat the virus.

Kendrick is the ranking Democrat on the Missouri House Budget Committee. As a state representative, May served on the Budget Committee and was the ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on Appropriations – Public Safety, Corrections, Transportation and Revenue.

Parson has been criticized for not originally including any Democrats, women or people of color on the panel. State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, a Republican from southwest Missouri’s Shell Knob, is the chairman of the group. Before Parson appointed him to serve in his current role, Fitzpatrick was the House Budget Committee Chairman.

Sen. Karla May (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“I think at the end of the day the governor is interested in having a group of people that will have relevant experience and can provide results to him,” Fitzpatrick tells Missouri. “The demographics things are, I think, kind of a secondary concern.”

Other group members include State Budget Director Dan Haug, Missouri Public Service Commission Chairman and former Missouri House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey, Missouri House Budget Committee Vice Chairman David Wood, State Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, Department of Natural Resources legislative liaison Rich Germinder and Dan Burgess, legislative director for Missouri U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.

“I think what the governor was trying to accomplish was having some legislative input, some federal input with a member of the federal delegation staff representative there, somebody from a staff level from the executive branch as well as the budget director and myself and then also Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey,” says Fitzpatrick.

So far, Missouri has had at least 208 coronavirus related deaths and more than 6,100 people have tested positive for the respiratory disease. COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting African-Americans in Missouri.

Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick (Photos courtesy of the Treasurer’s Office)

Fitzpatrick says Missouri has already received $1.18 billion – half of the total federal allocation. The rest of the money could come later this week. The state is still awaiting federal guidance on the way it can spend the money in response to the coronavirus.

Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat challenging Parson for governor, is reviewing the way the state is using the funding.

Fitzpatrick says he hopes to have the first meeting next week. It will be held in a public setting. The location is unknown at this time.

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