Missouri lawmakers look to cut $700 million from next year's budget because of the coronavirus pandemic

Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 6:12 PM CDT
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Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr can tell you, the coronavirus pandemic is making it hard on the state and it's people.

"It's extraordinarily difficult," Haahr said.

Missouri saw about a 4-percent decrease in general revenue collections in March, compared to March of last year, due largely to the pandemic.

Because of that, there could be a $700 million budget shortfall next year.

"We won't really know for several months how accurate that number is," Haahr noted.

Still, cuts will need to come.

The House is expected to vote on a plan that would cut 10-percent for public colleges, and about $7 million dollars less for K-12 transportation.

"That's a big concern to us. We are almost to 100 schools already on four day school weeks," said Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield. "A big reason behind that is transportation funding, not being able to keep the doors open, as well as teacher pay."

The Missouri Department of Transportation likely will not see $55 million dollars to help with the Governor's Bridge Rehab project.

Parson also wanted to see state workers get a pay increase for the second year in a row to help lessen the high turnover rate.

Now, that likely won't be happening.

There is more federal money on its way, and with businesses starting to reopen next Monday, Quade thinks budget talks this week are a waste of time.

"We don't know what our economy is going to look like in two or three weeks when things open up again," Quade said. "That's why I believe this is too early."

Haahr acknowledged lawmakers will likely be back this summer in a special session to make changes to the budget because of that additional federal funding.

"We had a hard constitutional deadline of May 8 to pass a budget, and we're constrained by that," Haahr said.

The House is expected to vote on the budget Wednesday, sending it to the Missouri Senate for debate and approval.