The state budget proposal is set to take center stage next week in the Missouri Senate. The latest version does not include a proposed ban on state spending of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

The Senate Appropriations Committee took out the House language. Will it stay out?

State Representative Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, is all for that decision.

“As some department heads have said, it is an existential threat to what we do in most of our departments and would be an enormous problem. It’s absolutely insane to think that we should be having a conversation about banning diversity programs or limiting diversity programs,” said Merideth. “Our departments are telling us that for retention, which is, you know, hiring and retention are an enormous problem in our state workforce. When they’ve used these diversity programs, they have a 50% higher rate of retention for folks that went through them.”

Merideth said House Democrats are not interested in a compromise.

Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher (Photo by Tim Bommel, House Communications)

Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher (Photo by Tim Bommel, House Communications)

“It needs to not be in there and I’m hopeful that with the governor and the department’s pushing as hard as they are against it with some of the sensible folks on the Senate, and even some of those, at least privately on the House, I think that there’s a good chance that it stays out of there. But I don’t want to jump ahead of what happens in the Senate side,” said Merideth.

Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, said he likes the proposed ban on diversity spending but he will wait and see what the Senate does with the budget.

Once the Senate passes the budget, a group of House and Senate negotiators will get together to work out their differences.

The Legislature’s deadline to pass a balanced state budget proposal is May 5.

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