Shades of Blue

Monday, May 08, 2006

Pending Missouri Legislation

from Citizens for Missouri's Children (CMC)

Budget & Income SecurityBudget Conference: CMC has learned from the Department of Social Services (DSS) that there may be a shortfall in funding for Foster Care ($2 million) and Performance Based Case Management Contracts ($10 million). We understand that DSS will ask for a supplemental for Foster Care funding if needed. During the Budget Conference so far, it looks like Foster Care will get $31 million and Performance Based Case Management Contracts will get roughly $20 million. We believe the Budget Conference Committee has allocated $850,000 for 7.5 full-time employees for Accreditation efforts.
The Budget Conference has approved the Senate’s recommendation to allocate $300,000 for a new premium relief plan. This additional allocation will mostly help families earning between 186% and 225% of FPL who participate in the Child Health Insurance Plan. The Partnership for Children, CMC and other child advocates worked hard to make this happen.
Normally by this time the Budget Conference work is completed but they are running behind this year. We hope to have more finalized budget information next week.

HB 1905: CMC’s Cathi Martarella attended the Senate Aging, Families, Public & Mental Health Committee’s hearing on HB 1905, which authorizes the Family Support Division within the Department of Social Services to assist elderly individuals who qualify for the Federal Food Stamp Program in obtaining supplemental food stamps. This bill has wide bipartisan support. The Missouri Association of Social Welfare (MASW) and the Missouri Association of Community Action Agencies testified in support of the bill. If HB 1905 passes, it will help a lot of low-income Missourians. MASW has put together a fact sheet on the issue, and here a few interesting points:
- According to the US Department of Agriculture, an estimated 23,000 households in Missouri lived with hunger or the threat of hunger in 2005.
- 54% of food pantry clients in Mid-Missouri have children and 2% of these households include both adults over the age of 65 and children.
- Because federal food stamp benefits are 100 percent federally funded, HB 1905 would have the additional benefit of bringing more federal resources into Missouri. These federal dollars generate economic benefits for state and local economies. USDA indicates that every $5 in Food Stamps generates $9.20 in economic activity.

TABOR: Ballot Signatures are due in Missouri on May 7, 2006. We have learned that TABOR signature gatherers are having difficulty collecting the necessary signatures in Congressional District 2. Missouri advocates can effectively prevent TABOR from reaching the ballot by ensuring that they are unable to get the needed signatures in Congressional District 2 before the May 7th Deadline.
Partners to Protect Missouri’s Future are launching The Decline to Sign Campaign; it will start this Saturday, April 29, 2006 with a training from 12-5 pm for all volunteers who are able to attend. It will take place at:
AFSCME Office9415 Dielman Rock Island Rd.St. Louis, Missouri 63132(314) 995-9707
The office that is used for the training will be "home base" for the week. We assume that individuals will meet at this location to determine where they should locate themselves for the day, and will report back to this location.
We need volunteers all week through Friday May 5th. Volunteers will be sent in a coordinated fashion to locations throughout the 2nd Congressional District where petitioners are located. Volunteers will prevent people from signing the TABOR petitions by distributing information before people sign and talking to members of the public about TABOR.
The following towns are in Congressional District 2: Ballwin, Chesterfield, Creve Coeur, Des Peres, Ellisville, Eureka, Florissant, Hazelwood, Kirkwood, Manchester, Maryland Heights, Olivette, St. Charles, St. Peters, Town & Country and Wildwood. If you live in any of these communities and want to become more involved, please contact Jeff Mazur at jeffreymazur@hotmail.com or Amy Blouin at cell 314-518-8867. We need your help to spread the word!

Early Care & EducationSB 1230: The Senate Aging, Families, Public & Mental Health Committee held a hearing on SB 1230 which would raise the eligibility for the child care subsidy program to 185% of FPL. CMC testified in support of SB 1230.

HB 1141: It is still on the perfection calendar but with 10 days remaining in the session we think its passage is doubtful.

HealthProposals to Improve the Affordability Test: CMC’s Cathi Martarella and Pam Rich have devised some alternative tests with Ruth Ehresman of The Missouri Budget Project. The variations focus on bringing the test in line with what Missouri employees pay or basing it on a % of family income.
We are currently presenting these ideas to key leaders in the House and Senate. The Governor’s office and Senator Shields have expressed interest in working with us on revising the test. We and Senator Dougherty will work with members of the Governor’s staff and Senator Shields to find a solution.

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