Gov. Mike Parson outlined several budget priorities in his press briefing Thursday, including funding to help job seekers and Missouri students.
Funds to Support Job Seekers and Job Training
• Safe resumption of in-person service at Missouri Job Centers, $1 million. With hundreds of thousands of Missourians unemployed due to COVID-19, investing in the state’s workforce is essential to economic recovery. The Office of Workforce Development launched its Return Strong initiative to help Missourians skill up and get back to work, and to safely and responsibly reopen the public workforce system. Gov. Parson included $1 million to be distributed to the Office of Workforce Development and Local Workforce Development Boards to support Missourians safely resuming in-person job search assistance at Job Centers across the state. The staff at these centers are vital to helping Missourians find meaningful employment. These funds will come from the Coronavirus Relief Fund in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
• Job training, $9.7 million. Un- and underemployed Missourians can access job training funds through Return Strong. The funds announced today include $6.7 million toward additional job training funds to help displaced workers skill up and return to the workforce stronger than when they left it, $2 million to train Missourians for high-demand positions in information technology, and $1 million for the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant. $8.7 of these funds will come from the Coronavirus Relief Fund and $1 million will come from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund in the CARES Act.
Funds to Support Colleges, Universities, and Students
• Support for safe return to in-person instruction and campus life, $80 million. COVID-19 forced higher education institutions to move classes online in the spring. These funds will be used to reimburse public institutions for costs associated with preparing to return to in-person instruction and campus life in the fall. These funds will come from the Coronavirus Relief Fund in the CARES Act.
• Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, $23.6 million. The Governor announced his plans for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, which is part of the CARES Act and brought $54.6 million to the state to strengthen the education entities that were most significantly impacted by coronavirus and/or essential for carrying out emergency educational services. The Governor has allocated $23.6 of the GEER Fund to public colleges and universities to support:
◦ Staff, infrastructure and technology to support distance education, or remote learning;
◦ Academic support for libraries, laboratories, and other academic facilities;
◦ Institutional support for activities related to personnel, payroll, security, environmental health and safety, and administrative offices; and/or
◦ Student services that promote a student’s emotional and physical well-being outside the context of the formal instructional program.
• Support for expansion of remote learning capability, $10 million. In MDHEWD’s 2020 After-Action Report on the rapid transition to online learning, colleges and universities consistently ranked internet connectivity issues as among their most significant challenges. These funds will allow MDHEWD to reimburse public colleges and universities for costs that address these issues. These funds will come from the Coronavirus Relief Fund in the CARES Act.
“Developing a state budget often requires difficult choices, and the expenditure restrictions announced last week will create significant challenges. I want to thank Governor Parson for using federal funds to mitigate some of those challenges, and I look forward to working with him and members of the General Assembly to release these restrictions as the economy improves. The Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development, together with the state’s colleges and universities and the public workforce system, are ready to be part of the solution,” said Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education. “Finally, I want to thank our state's higher education leaders, who are dedicated to prioritizing student access and success and have been working extremely hard to reduce barriers, including keeping costs down for students despite the tremendous financial challenges they face.”
"Even in these extraordinary times we remain as committed as ever to affordability. For the upcoming year, any tuition increases at COPHE universities and at State Technical College will be at or below the rate of inflation, as they have been for over ten years," said Paul Wagner, Executive Director of the Public Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE).