Missouri’s House Budget Committee chairman supports Governor Mike Parson’s (R) decision to withhold $180 million in state spending, to ensure a balanced state budget during the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor announced the expenditure restrictions on Wednesday afternoon in Jefferson City.

Missouri House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, speaks on the House floor in Jefferson City on March 18, 2020 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

House Budget chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, notes thousands of people have lost their jobs.

“Certainly this is unprecedented, but this pandemic has been incredibly disruptive not only to everyone’s daily life and those affected directly, but also to the economy,” Smith says.

For the week ending on March 21, more than 42,000 unemployment claims were filed in Missouri, up from 4,000 filed the prior week.

The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted jobs in southwest Missouri, which is where Smith lives. Missourinet Joplin affiliate KZRG reported this week that La-Z-Boy has temporarily closed all U.S. manufacturing operations, including its large factory in Neosho. That decision has put 800 workers in southwest Missouri out of jobs, for the time being. La-Z-Boy will re-evaluate on April 13.

Governor Parson is warning that the state could see a $500 million budget shortfall between now and the end of June. Budget Chairman Smith shares the governor’s hope that millions of dollars in federal funding could help with the state’s cash-flow crunch.

“It should be noted that the governor is taking these measures in light of what we do know, that we will be receiving from the federal government, as far as the relief funds go,” says Smith.

The governor says the revenue declines could be larger than those experienced during the Great Recession.

The UM System president says the budget withholds announced by Governor Parson will total about $36 million for the University system. Dr. Mun Choi has issued a statement, saying the system “appreciates everything that our elected officials are doing during this unprecedented time.”

Chairman Smith praises Dr. Choi’s position.

“I appreciate President Choi’s words there, I hope that’s the spirit with which everyone is taking these measures that the governor has made,” Smith says.

Dr. Choi says the state is working hard to prioritize its resources, and that we must all work together to get past the crisis.

Missouri health officials say there are now 1,581 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, along with 18 deaths. The state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) released the latest numbers Wednesday afternoon.

Click here to view the full list of expenditure restrictions.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, which was recorded on April 1, 2020:

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