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Missouri to release $133 million for education, virus aid, more

(AP) — Missouri will release about $133 million in funding to support critical services — including $61.5 million in CARES Act funding for primary and secondary schools and $26 million for higher education — because the state’s economy is weathering the coronavirus pandemic better than forecast this summer, Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday.

The governor, in his first news conference since leaving isolation after being diagnosed with COVID-19, said he planned to release about $38 million in general revenues and $95 million in federal funding for coronavirus-related expenses.

When state officials restricted spending and made cuts in June in response to the pandemic, officials had forecast the unemployment rate would be 16.3 percent. It is currently 7 percent. The state also has recovered more than 200,000 of the 346,000 jobs it lost because of the outbreak, he said.

He also said general revenues for September were more than $944 million, 3 percent better than the $917 million in September 2019.

“We are outpacing our budget forecast and recovering more jobs than the vast majority of other states,” he said.

Other than the funding for education, the money being released will go toward social services such as assisted living, child care providers, improving infrastructure and several others, the governor said.

Parson made the announcement on the day Missouri health officials confirmed more than 1,000 more cases of COVID-19 in the state, for a total to 135,651, compared with 134,583 on Tuesday. The state has had 2,236 deaths, up from 2,200 on Tuesday.

Parson noted the total cases includes all cases since March and does not include the number of people who have recovered or are currently recovering, which he said was more than 100,000.

The state’s coronavirus data dashboard does not include data on recoveries, and Randall Williams, the director of the Missouri health department, said the number of recoveries can only be estimated because health officials aren’t able to contact large numbers of people to determine if they have recovered without ongoing issues.

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