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story.lead_photo.caption Missouri state senators on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, pass a bill giving Republican Gov. Mike Parson sweeping authority to spend billions of dollars in federal stimulus money in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Phillip Sitter / News Tribune.
For more news about the COVID-19 coronavirus, access the News Tribune Health section.

If any cases of COVID-19 develop among wards of the state or staff at some state facilities, staff there could receive a stipend.

The passed version of the supplemental budget Missouri lawmakers overwhelmingly approved last week included funding for pandemic stipends "to state employees providing direct care and support to institutionalized individuals during the COVID-19 public health emergency."

Specifically, such funding was made available to the Office of Administration, the Missouri Veterans' Commission and the Missouri departments of Corrections, Mental Health and Social Services:

OA — specifically for its Division of Facilities Management, Design and Construction — $633,000, half of which would be from the State Facility Maintenance and Operation Fund, and the other half from federal stimulus funds;

Missouri Veterans' Commission, $4,524,000, half of which would be from the Missouri Veterans' Homes Fund, and the other half from federal stimulus funds;

Corrections — specifically for its Division of Human Services — approximately $23.16 million, including approximately $11.2 million from general revenue and $11.6 million in federal funds;

Mental Health, $16.35 million, half of which would be from general revenue and the other half from federal stimulus funds;

Social Services — specifically for its Division of Youth Services — $2,589,000, including $841,425 in general revenue, with the rest from federal funds.

In all, that would be approximately $20.25 million in general revenue funding, out of approximately $47 million in total for the stipends.

Gov. Mike Parson said Friday that he had signed the supplemental budget into law. While full details of the supplemental budget Parson signed were not yet available Friday, he had said Thursday when asked about the stipends that "there are some workers we feel are critical in the state" who would get an increase in pay or hazard pay during the pandemic.

His office had recommended the stipends to the Legislature.

State Budget Director Dan Haug told the Missouri Senate's Appropriations Committee last week as they marked up the budget bill that the budget numbers for the pandemic stipends were based on a worst-case scenario — if every applicable facility among those such as habilitation centers for people with developmental disabilities, Missouri Veterans' Homes, youth facilities, prisons and state psychological hospitals qualified for the rest of the current fiscal year.

"Obviously, that's not going to happen, so we expect to spend less than this, but we don't want to get caught short," Haug said.

He described how quickly staffing can become an issue amid the pandemic.

He said a positive test for COVID-19 had been identified at a habilitation center in St. Louis, and on the next shift, only half of the staff showed up.

"We are trying to deal with that situation by giving the people who are willing to show up, not having any unexcused absences — where they don't show and don't call in and use leave — $250 for that pay period," Haug said.

He said a facility would not qualify if a member of a worker's family became infected — only a ward of the state or staff member at the facility — and payment would only last so long as someone at the facility could be infectious.

He said all of the state's maintenance employees work for OA, which is why that department had stipend money budgeted for it, for maintenance staff who work at such facilities.

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