Senate’s Rowden not in favor of budget amendments targeting diversity, equity and inclusion language
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
A top Missouri Senate leader who represents Boone County says language approved by the House in budget bills prohibiting diversity, equity and inclusion in government spending won't make it through the Senate.
The Missouri House passed budget bills Thursday that were amended to take money from any entity that the state does business with that has diversity, equity and inclusion training or programs.
House Democrats said Thursday that the amendments promote racism. It passed along party lines.
Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) on Friday voiced his displeasure of the bill on social media.
“The DEI language passed by the House ... within our state’s operating budget, while well intentioned, is overly broad and would result in billions of dollars in cuts to hospitals, health care facilities, colleges and universities, and the Missouri House of Representatives itself,” Rowden tweeted. “My office will be working with the Governor and other interested parties to find language that will incentivize institutions within this state to encourage environments of merit, fairness and equality that will truly benefit the people of this great state and unite us behind a forward-facing set of ideals motivated by common sense and not by identity politics.”
MY STATEMENT RE: DEI LANGUAGE IN MISSOURI HOUSE BUDGET #MOLeg -- Missouri Republicans believe diversity is a strength in our workforce and in our educational institutions. Missouri Republicans also believe being forced to adhere to positions on diversity, equity and inclusion as…— Caleb Rowden (@calebrowden) March 31, 2023
State Democrats said on Thursday that they 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.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that "a powerful Senate Republican" has said he plans to undo the House’s diversity spending limits.
"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.
Statements of diversity, equity and inclusion have been a recent target by Republicans nationwide and within the state. The University of Missouri recently announced it would be replacing DEI language in its hiring process.