Parson cuts spending as virus hits Missouri economy

Parson cuts spending as virus hits Missouri economy

COLUMBIA (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says he’s expecting a $500 million revenue shortfall this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and he’s cutting roughly $175 million in spending to make up for it.

Parson projected significant drops in tax revenue that “may be larger than those experienced during the Great Recession.”

Many of the cuts affected public colleges and universities. Parson blocked more than $61 million intended for public four-year colleges and another close to $12 million for community colleges.

More budget restrictions might be needed if the toll on the economy is even worse than expected, Parson said.

State Budget Director Dan Haug said the spending cuts also would ensure that the state had the cash flow to quickly buy ventilators, protective gear for health workers and first responders, and other scarce supplies.

The rest of the projected $500 million shortfall will be made up by the federal stimulus package, Haug said. The state is expecting about $316 million from the federal stimulus package, he said.

Missouri’s fiscal year ends in June. The hit to state coffers will probably continue into the new fiscal year, Haug and Parson said.

But Parson expressed hope that Missouri would recover quickly from a recession expected because of layoffs, shutdowns and rising health care costs due to the pandemic. That echoes optimism expressed by President Donald Trump.

“I do believe the economy will come back,” Parson said. “It will come back strong once we get through this.”

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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