'Butt out': St. Louis paper slams Missouri GOP for 'meddling' in COVID relief funds after voting against extra cash

'Butt out': St. Louis paper slams Missouri GOP for 'meddling' in COVID relief funds after voting against extra cash

When Democrats in Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and President Joe Biden signed it into law, the funds were meant to help urban and suburban areas as well as rural areas. Large cities have different economic and budgetary needs than rural areas, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's editorial board — in a biting editorial published on May 10 — slams Republicans in the Missouri State Legislature who "want to meddle in how St. Louis and other cities" spend the money.

The Post-Dispatch editorial board explains, "St. Louis knows better than distant rural lawmakers how that money should be used…. A (Missouri) House (of Representatives) committee last week voted to create a new Local Accountability and Transparency Committee to oversee the Rescue Plan money that's going to cities, including the $517 million coming St. Louis' way. It's pending before the full House. While the committee couldn't block local spending, it would create an added layer of bureaucracy for cities in handling the money."

The editorial board finds it ridiculous that although the American Rescue Plan received no GOP votes in either the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate, Republicans in the Missouri State Legislature in Jefferson City (the state capitol) want to dictate how St. Louis' government uses the money.

"The Biden Administration's American Rescue Plan is the $1.9 trillion program designed to boost America's economic recovery from the pandemic," the Post-Dispatch editorial board points out. "It put $2800 in the pockets of most American households, extends unemployment benefits, provides grants to small businesses, and provides billions to local governments to bolster education, housing, health care and other areas. Not one Republican in Congress voted for it, but now, their Jefferson City counterparts want to oversee it."

Although Missouri is a red state — former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election but carried Missouri by 15% — and its state legislature in Jefferson City is controlled by Republicans, St. Louis is heavily Democratic. St. Louis' mayor, Tishaura Jones, is a Democrat. And the Post-Dispatch's editorial stresses that Republicans in Missouri's state government fail to comprehend St. Louis' needs as a large urban center.

"Mayor Tishaura Jones said through a spokesman that St. Louis intends full public transparency with the money anyway and that the state is welcome to 'the same information we're providing the public,'" the Post-Dispatch's editorial board notes. "That's fine, but the fact remains that a state government with a history of damaging meddling in city affairs now wants to meddle in the use of money that Republicans as a party didn't want cities to have in the first place. The Legislature should butt out."

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