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House will not take up FY21 budget this week amid coronavirus concerns

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As Cole County officials announced the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the area, the Missouri House announced it would not take up the full Fiscal Year 2021 budget this week as planned. 

The House is still expected to take up the supplemental budget Wednesday, which includes emergency provisions to help with COVID-19, Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo said in an email to members and provided to The Missouri Times. After the House adjourns Wednesday, it will go to legislative spring break. 

As the Senate adjourned for the break a week early over coronavirus concerns, the House was in technical session Monday and Tuesday. The Budget Committee convened on Sunday and has been working through the week. The General Assembly has a constitutional obligation to pass a balance each year. 

“This decision was made based on the information we currently have as well as other factors that cannot be foreseen at this time,” Vescovo said. “Our primary goal is to maintain an amenable budget so that we can account for potential fluctuation in revenue and address any new needs facing Missouri.” 

So far, 15 Missourians have tested positive for coronavirus — including one individual in Boone County and another in Cole County — and a state of emergency was declared last week. Businesses, schools, and many governmental operations have shuttered as more positive tests are confirmed. 

The House has already limited public access to certain areas in the Capitol, including the floor. 

“In an effort to follow the CDC’s guidelines on large gatherings, our hope is that we can limit the number of members on the floor,” Vescovo said in the Tuesday email. “We encourage you to listen to the debate from your office and come to the chamber during roll call votes. We will hold the board open long enough for you to make it to the chamber.” 

Vescovo said members would be updated “on any decisions regarding when we will return to the Capitol to continue our legislative work.” 

HB 2456 and HB 2725 are also expected to be taken up Wednesday. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.