Citing COVID, governor cuts spending
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget as revenues continue to tank because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Parson signed the budget for the fiscal year beginning Wednesday while also immediately slashing close to $450 million from it.
“When COVID-19 hit Missouri in March, everything changed,” Parson said, “including our state budget.”
The upcoming year's budget is about $35.3 billion and includes about $10 billion in state dollars. Most of Parson's cuts were to state dollars.
State Budget Director Dan Haug said the cuts were needed to balance the budget amid a severe drop in revenue that he said is worse than declines Missouri experienced during the Great Recession.
Revenues are down 7.4% this fiscal year compared to the same time last year, according to May data.
Most of Parson's cuts were to public K-12 schools and colleges and universities.
Grade schools will get $123 million less in core funding than lawmakers had budgeted. Haug said that means they'll get the same amount they're getting this fiscal year after Parson cut their budget.
Public community colleges and university also will get the same amount they got this year after cuts, Haug said. That amounts to about $18 million less for community colleges and close to $28 million less for four-year colleges and universities.
The governor's nearly 150 cuts also included $9.4 million from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families work programs. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families provides cash aid to low-income families to help buy their children clothing, pay for utilities or provide other services for their kids.
Missouri requires most recipients to participate in work programs. That requirement was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, but families beginning in August will have to take part in work or job training activities again or risk losing benefits.
The governor could undo some or all of the $450 million in cuts if revenues increase unexpectedly in the coming months. If revenues continue to decline, he could make even deeper cuts.
Parson also vetoed about $11 million that was set aside for state agencies' mileage reimbursement, equipment and other programs. Lawmakers could attempt to override those vetoes in September.