State Auditor Nicole Galloway has spent the week touring Missouri as part of her bid for governor. She has visited Hannibal, Cape Girardeau, Joplin, and Sedalia. Galloway is the Democratic nominee and faces Republican Governor Mike Parson in November’s General Election.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway (2019 file photo

Much of Galloway’s focus during her visits has been critical of Parson’s approach to COVID-19 and about Medicaid expansion. Earlier this month, Missouri voters approved a ballot measure to provide government-funded health coverage to another 230,000 adults. Galloway, who supports Medicaid expansion, says healthcare is going to be one of the most important ways the state digs itself out of the COVID-19 crisis.

“It will bring billions of dollars back from D.C. and invest it in our healthcare community, into our economy – creating thousands of jobs in places that our state desperately needs,” she says. “And, Medicaid expansion provides health insurance for nearly a quarter-million working Missourians. This is the exact economic development opportunity our state needs in the midst of this pandemic.”

Parson opposed the ballot measure. He says the plan will take state funding away from other priorities like education and public safety during a time when there is no extra money to go around.

After voters approved the plan, Parson said the state will implement it. He said the money to pay for it will have to be found somewhere. The projected cost of the plan ranges from an additional $200 million to the state or a savings of $1 billion, according to the fiscal note on the August primary election ballot.

Galloway doesn’t buy Parson’s pledge to fund expansion. She thinks he will undermine the process. She says Medicaid can be expanded without raising taxes or cutting programs.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson briefs Capitol reporters in Jefferson City on June 16, 2020 (photo courtesy of Governor Parson’s Flickr page)

“Even in the midst of a pandemic, people’s healthcare costs continue to go up and working Missourians do not have health insurance coverage. So they are one emergency away from a lifetime of crushing debt. We cannot survive as a state and families cannot survive if we continue down this path,” she says.

Galloway says the state’s coronavirus cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations are going in the wrong direction. She says Parson’s leadership on COVID-19 has failed Missourians.

“We need a reset on our coronavirus strategy,” she says.

Galloway says a mask requirement is necessary.

“We will never recover economically. We will never rebound unless we control the spread of the virus. And controlling the spread of the virus does not mean shuttering businesses or taking away livelihoods. It means using the tools at our disposal that we know work. We can look at other states. Republican states have mask orders. Wearing a mask is an easy way that we can protect the public health. We can have our schools reopen fully for in-person learning and we can save jobs and open up our economy.”

Parson says he will not issue a statewide face mask order to help limit the spread of the virus, instead letting local leaders decide. He points to more than 50% of the cases being in Missouri’s urban areas.

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