The state will release a revenue report this week for the first nine months of the fiscal year that in normal times would mean receipts will cover the year's obligations and leave a nice carryover for the future.


It is a picture of life before coronavirus.


A daily revenue report provided to the Tribune shows receipts through Thursday were up 5.6 percent so far. The spending plan for the year that ends June 30 was written on expectations of 2 percent growth.


When he announced about $175 million in budget withholdings last week, Gov. Mike Parson warned that revenues were cratering and that action was needed immediately to keep spending in balance.


Budget Director Dan Haug described it this way: “We are seeing unprecedented drops in revenue from the significant reduction of economic activity, from people staying home.”


Haug's office on Thursday sent a $5 billion set of amendments to lawmakers for the supplemental spending bill pending in the state Senate. Lawmakers will gather Wednesday to vote on the plan with one of their members — Rep. Joe Runions, D-Grandview — at home recuperating from COVID-19.


Lawmakers have not been in Jefferson City since mid-March. They will meet for one day for the Senate to make changes in the supplemental spending bill and the House to ratify it.


House Democratic Leader Crystal Quade of Springfield said she hasn't been deeply involved in budget conversations. She's concentrated on making sure members and the public, which will be allowed but is discouraged from attending, don't spread the coronavirus.


Members will be directed to one set of doors and the public to another, she said. A health professional will take the temperature of everyone entering.


"Staff and members of public who have a temperature will not have access to the building," she said. "Members who have a temperature will be put in an isolation room and asked not to participate."


State Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, said he feels the right safety precautions are in place. He took part in a conference call last week about how things will work.


Members will be asked to stay in their offices listening to debate. A message to the floor will tell the few in the chamber that someone wants to speak. When the vote comes, members will be called in district-number order.


“They have really worked out a lot of the details,” he said.


If the first two days of April are any indication, the drop in revenue will be as severe as Parson warned.


Usually the best month for income tax collections, the decision to put the filing date off until July 15 means no one who owes a large sum must send in their payment. Income tax receipts for those two days were down 31 percent over the same two days last year.


The supplemental spending bill is usually routine legislation. When it passed the House, it was a $412 million plan designed mainly to fill in gaps in funding for Medicaid and other programs.


It did include $33 million for coronavirus preparedness and response. Amendments sent to lawmakers from Haug's office propose $1.01 billion, including $150 million of general revenue, for that purpose.


Other amendments cover two distributions to public schools totaling $1.8 billion, and two for state colleges and universities totaling $504 million.


The four-campus University of Missouri System would get $138.7 million, the largest share of the money that is specified to a particular institution. The second-largest share is $31.3 million for Missouri State University.


There is another $200 million that institutions will share but no line-item details.


The other large item is $1.07 billion for distribution to local governments.


There is also $46.5 million set aside to provide temporary raises to state employees who work in veterans homes, prisons, mental health facilities and juvenile facilities during the pandemic.


The plan to spend $5 billion immediately is raising questions among Democrats, who are in the minority in the legislature. State Rep. Kip Kendrick of Columbia, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said he will be listening to a conference call Monday for a reason to spend all the money over the next three months.


The conference call between legislative budget leaders, the state budget office and Parson's office is the prelude to a Tuesday meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Wednesday votes.


"There is some reluctance," Kendrick said. "We are going to have a broader conversation with the executive branch."


State Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland and chair of the Subcommittee on Appropriations--Public Safety, Corrections, Transportation and Revenue, said the bill is intended to use all the money the administration expects will flow to the state before June 30.


"As you know, how the budget process works is the departments have to have the spending authority before they can spend the money," Walsh said.


One reason for allocating such large sums to public schools and higher education is that it could allow Parson to substitute general and gaming revenue with federal grant money. Walsh said she was confident the plan crafted by the administration, House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, and the Senate would fit the state's needs.


Walsh will be on Monday's conference call as well.


"This is what they expect Missouri to receive," she said. "This is the best estimate of what we an receive and spend by June 30."


rkeller@columbiatribune.com


573-815-1709


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