Missouri House Budget Committee Chair Cody Smith, R-Carthage, has removed all $4.5 million in state funding for libraries from the latest version of the state budget proposal. He opposes the Missouri Library Association, the ACLU of Missouri, and the Missouri Association of School Libraries suing the state over a Missouri law that limits what materials can be in school libraries.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve come to this juncture,” Smith said during House Budget Committee work last month. “Like I said, this body has been supportive of libraries at large continually over the last several years. We’ve increased their funding quite a bit and I think they’re valuable resources within the community.”

Hundreds of books have been removed from school library shelves statewide as a result of the 2022 law.

State Rep. Adrian Plank, D-Columbia, opposes Smith’s move.

“We’ve got a situation where, you know, it’s more about strong arming, you know, taking the money out of the budget. That’s blackmail is all that is,” said Plank. “And so, whenever you use the government as blackmail that becomes a problem. The problem is literally attacking the libraries, where people still especially when it comes to low income especially in rural where internet is not necessarily always accessible, libraries are the place they gotta go to learn something.”

Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, reportedly plans to add the state funding to libraries back into the budget proposal. His committee gets to work on the FY 2024 fiscal plan today.

Story courtesy of J.B. Connoley, with Missourinet affiliate KWIX in Moberly