JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Missouri House's budget debate Thursday morning focused largely on Republican efforts to limit diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
Budget bills passed through the House on Thursday were amended to take money from any entity that the state does business with that has diversity, equity and inclusion training or programs.
"There are so many things that folks ask us at the doors to do," House Minority Leader Rep. Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) said in a news conference. "Instead, we're spending hours talking about these divisive concepts that Republicans just run to win their elections. The governor and the department heads have come and discussed with us how if this language remains intact, it will completely jeopardize every dollar the state of Missouri operates with."
Democrats fear the state would lose contracts with companies that have diversity and inclusion programs. Republicans deem the programs a waste of tax dollars that teach divisive concepts.
"We wouldn't be able to have our lights on because Ameren has diversity, equity and inclusion in their mission and staff associated with it," Rep. Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis) said. "It's absolutely bonkers."
Merideth said with this amendment in the bills, Coca-Cola wouldn't be allowed in vending machines at the Capitol.
Democratic members of the House are confident the amendments will be taken out once all the bills are sent to the Senate.