Missouri House Republicans Vote to Defund Libraries in Revenge Tactic

Missouri House Republicans continue to serve themselves rather than their constituents by defunding libraries. Book banning is only getting worse.

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In an effort to silence the rising criticism of book banning by Missouri Librarians and a blatant act of retribution, the Missouri House Republicans voted to defund the state’s public libraries by cutting $4.5 million slated for libraries from the budget. This comes after the ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Missouri Association of School Libraries and the Missouri Library Association in February of 2023. 

The Proposal

Missouri House budget committee leader Rep. Cody Smith (R-Carthage) proposed cutting library aid due to the lawsuit, citing that the state shouldn’t “subsidize” the lawsuit with government funds. Given the fact that the ACLU of Missouri released a statement that they’re representing the two library associations pro bono, one has to wonder at the continued efforts to defund the 399 Missouri public libraries. 

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Representatives in Missouri pushed through an unconstitutional bill and are now facing the consequences. Senate Bill 755 forcibly banned over 300 books from being in the hands of children in school libraries. Books that include mention of LGBTQ characters and themes, as well as diversity and racial injustices. 

BOOK-SHELF IN LIBRARY-- Missouri House Republicans Vote to Defund Libraries in Revenge Tactic

Senate Bill 755’s original intent was an effort to give sexual assault victims more rights. However, Senator Rick Brattin (R-Harrisville) added an amendment to remove adult content from reading materials in schools, specifically sexually explicit scenes. Any educator found in violation would face penalties of up to a year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. 

Democratic Representative Responds

This video by Democratic Representative Peter Merideth is lengthy. Still, it shows the lack of understanding by Missouri Republicans and his blatant calling out of his colleagues across the aisle for their antics. Not only does he agree with the lawsuit, underscoring that Democrats are also at fault, believing that the bill would be used differently, but he also states that the funds used for the lawsuit do not come from the state’s coffers. This plea came at the same time as Smith’s recommendation to defund, for which the Republicans took no heed.


Mo House GOP defunding libraries for suing the state over book ban. Call your reps and senators to restore funding for libraries!

♬ original sound – Rep Peter Merideth

Libraries are one of the only resources for technology and reading materials for a significant portion of underprivileged youth and those living in the lowest tax brackets. It is a place to utilize Internet services for school and work. A resource for books, pamphlets, and other reading materials otherwise out of the budget for many people. Libraries provide assistance and educational programs to those who need them most. Defunding them is illegal, per the Missouri Constitution, and an act that directly harms their constituents. 

The budget bill still requires a 3rd House reading prior to moving to the Senate for a vote and on to the Governor’s desk. Cutting costs for childcare and preschool programs and diversity initiatives are also on the chopping block.

To read more on Book Banning, click here.