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With new budget year around corner, Missouri governor slashes current spending again

With new budget year around corner, Missouri governor slashes current spending again

Accenture Federal Services adds technology jobs to St. Louis

Gov. Mike Parson listens to the announcement that Accenture Federal Services plans to bring 1,400 jobs to St. Louis over the next five years. The announcement was made on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, at Maryville University. Photo by Hillary Levin

JEFFERSON CITY — With just days to go before the end of the state’s fiscal year, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson axed another $2.4 million in spending because of the toll the coronavirus has taken on the economy.

The Republican announced Tuesday that the reductions were coming out of the budgets of the Legislature and all statewide offices, including his own.

“As Missouri continues to recover, our budget is still being adjusted,” Parson said.

The latest action brings the total amount of cuts to $430 million, with much of that coming out of higher education and public schools.

Net general revenue collections are down 7.4% so far this fiscal year compared with last year, due to a reduction in tax revenue. The state fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

Revenues in May dropped significantly as many businesses remained closed and people were left without work as the state unemployment rate shot up to 9.7%.

Last month alone, net general revenues decreased more than 22% compared with May 2019.

The latest cuts are not expected to have a major effect on the statewide offices and the House and the Senate.

In the House, the $564,145 budget reduction was money largely saved when the chamber went on an unscheduled, six-week break because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

With lawmakers at home, House officials didn’t have to pay lawmakers their daily expense money for food and lodging. They also saved money by not having to pay mileage to lawmakers.

The Senate also will not have to cut any jobs or services because of Parson’s move to cut $800,000 from its budget.

The governor’s office budget was pared by $250,000, while the auditor and attorney general each lost $200,000.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s budget was reduced by $350,000, while the lieutenant governor’s office lost $31,000.

Parson, meanwhile, is on track to act on the state’s $35 billion budget for next year by Tuesday, the final day of the fiscal year. He has said he will be using his line item veto power to reduce the spending plan.

Among the targets of additional cuts is higher education. In response, universities and community colleges have been raising their tuition.

He could offset some of the potential reductions by tapping into federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act funds.

The state has received $2.38 billion in emergency aid to help pay for pandemic-related expenses.

Of that, the state has spent more than $595 million on items ranging from bulk purchases of hand sanitizer and medical masks to financial aid to counties.

The remaining $1.7 billion, however, cannot plug all budget holes.

Kurt Erickson • 573-556-6181 @KurtEricksonPD on Twitter

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