Missouri Budget Slashed Due To COVID-19, Education Hit The Hardest
This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.
In Missouri, declining revenues prompted Republican Gov. Mike Parson to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars from the 2021 fiscal year budget — which began on July 1. That included substantial cuts to universities and colleges, as well as reductions to state money that went to K-12 schools.
"COVID-19 is unlike anything we have ever experienced before," Parson said in a statement. "As difficult as these decisions are, we are experiencing an unprecedented economic downturn, which meant we are having to make unprecedented adjustments in our budget."
Parson also had to withhold money from the 2020 budget, which stretched from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, because Missouri, like most states, must have a balanced budget every year. And voters in Missouri do not have an appetite for tax increases.
Some Democratic lawmakers pointed out that this all came several years after the GOP-controlled Legislature cut taxes — which they warned at the time could lead to longer-term consequences.
"Every time Republicans chipped away at Missouri's revenue base, Democrats warned these short-sighted decisions would pay a terrible dividend when the next economic downturn hit, and there always is a next one," said House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, a Democrat from Springfield.
Copyright 2020 St. Louis Public Radio