On Thursday, lawmakers voted on significant cuts to the state’s budget, after a shortfall of funds due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We find ourselves here about to make incredibly hard decisions about budget cuts and policies that will support individuals, organizations and businesses that are impacted by a global pandemic that none of us wanted, and none of us really foresaw coming,” said House Speaker Brad Wilson, during the special legislative session.
The revised budget cuts most of the spending increases approved earlier this year. The total budget was cut by just under 2%. But, lawmakers preserved a roughly 2% increase in education funding, and a 5% increase in social services. That’s because of the state’s continuing contributions to its rainy-day funds, said Senate President Stuart Adams.
“Because we have that ongoing money, we’re able to do some things in a downturn that no other state is,” said Adams.
The state also used federal COVID-19 relief funds to balance the budget. The measure unanimously passed the House and Senate.
While the budget deficit is not as high as earlier predictions, state revenue figures released on Tuesday show a gap of over $90 million in one-time funding and a nearly $760 million gap in ongoing funding for programs. Legislators will continue to evaluate the state’s finances as the pandemic continues.