JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Everything is on the table. That’s what Governor Mike Parson said Tuesday about the need to cut state expenses due to COVID-19.
The governor said the state must prepare for the possibility that some difficult budget decisions could be ahead and is telling all state agencies to brace for reductions.
With the first holiday weekend of the year during the pandemic approaching, Governor Parson reminded Missourians to exercise common sense with Memorial Day Weekend on the horizon and avoid large gatherings and maintain social distancing.
“We do not need a setback right now, so everybody’s got to do their part and you got to know who is high-risk and who is not and you got to act accordingly to how you’re going to conduct yourselves,” he said. “And I have every confidence that Missourians will do that and they will stay the course and move forward.”
What remains uncertain is whether another large influx of federal relief dollars will be headed to help the state’s devastated economically by COVID-19. The governor said Missouri must prepare for the possibility no additional money will arrive.
“Yesterday, I met with my own cabinet members throughout the state to tell them somewhat to expect and to start making adjustments to start putting a plan in each department of what we’re going to do cut expenses in state government,” he said. “And everything is on the table to be able to do that.”
Gov. Parson plans to meet with education officials on Wednesday to prepare them for moving forward with less money than they anticipated. That includes elementary and secondary and higher education.
The governor said it’s simply too soon to know whether the federal government will be providing relief money.
The governor said he believes Missouri is in better shape than many other states. And he believes the Missourians who have been following social distancing guidelines are a big reason why.
At present, Missouri has recorded 11,080 cases of SARS-CoV-2 and 616 subsequent deaths. That’s a mortality rate of 5.55 percent.
Not all cases and deaths recorded since yesterday have occurred in the last 24 hours.
Since March 7, over 154,000 Missourians have been tested for COVID-19, Parson said. Approximately 90 percent have tested negative.
The governor said the immediate goal is to issue more than 7,500 tests per day as of next week. Parson expects the number of positive results to go up as testing increases.
As of May 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 1,480,349 cases of COVID-19 and 89,407 deaths across all 50 states, for a national mortality rate of 6.04 percent.
Meanwhile, Kenneth Zellers, director of the Missouri Department of Revenue, took to the podium to update drivers who were allowed postponement of license or plate renewal with a new deadline. The state gave drivers a 60-day exemption for renewals in March and April.
Drivers who had a March renewal date now have until May 31 to take care of their business; drivers with an April date have until June 30. The drivers must handle these renewals in person to avoid being hit with a penalty.