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The 2021 budget restrictions Gov. Mike Parson and State Budget Director Dan Haug announced Tuesday because of the COVID-19 crisis included a reduction to the state workforce of approximately 500 positions, and Haug said Wednesday that of 300 filled positions that are affected, about 200 are in the Department of Social Services.

Out of a state workforce of approximately 50,000 employees, Haug said the 500 positions that will probably be cut include 200 vacant positions in addition to the 300 that are filled.

He said the exact number of layoffs is still a little fluid, because with a hiring freeze in place, the positions of state workers who left in the past month or two may be able to be left vacant.

"We did our best to protect state employees," Haug said of the budget-crafting process that reflected huge losses of state revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout.

Parson said Tuesday state revenues for 2020 were down approximately 7 percent from the year before — almost $1 billion below what had been projected in January, when he originally presented a budget plan to the Legislature.

A DSS spokesperson did not immediately respond to provide more exact details, but Haug specifically cited the department's children and youth divisions.

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He said middle management positions in the Children's Division could be cut, while preserving front line employees and not increasing their caseloads, and likewise, some restructuring could be done in the Division of Youth Services.

The Children's Division administers child welfare services. The Division of Youth Services cares for and treats youth in state custody through juvenile courts.

The more than $448 million in 2021 budget restrictions announced Tuesday include withholds of more than $386,000 from child support enforcement, more than $3.5 million from "Children's Field Staff and Operations," and more than $1.2 million from youth treatment programs.

Haug said the other cuts to filled and vacant state workforce positions are scattered across the state's departments.

While no pay cuts or furloughs are included, the 2021 budget restrictions announced Tuesday also mean state employees will not receive a 2 percent raise, as had been planned in January.

If revenues allow it, Haug said, it's possible state employees could get a raise next year, but that assumes a lot goes well between now and then with the pandemic and the economy: "Obviously, if things fall right, that's something we could consider."

The budget restrictions announced Tuesday could be at least in part undone if revenues come in better than expected later this year, and Haug said the state will have to see where revenues are come October and November, when the 2022 budget will begin to be developed.

He cautioned, however, "This is such a fluid situation, really unlike anything I've seen in doing this for 25 years."

While the economy may bounce back from the pandemic faster than it did after the Great Recession in the 2000s that was triggered by a housing market crisis, Haug said, "it's not going to bounce back overnight."

After the Great Recession's financial crash in 2008, he said it took five years for state revenues to get back to what they had been.

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