The state legislature could arrive in Nashville next week looking to save an additional $500 million.
State Senator Paul Bailey said state economists are trying to determine just how severe April’s revenue downturn will be.
“I think that our economists have probably been very conservative,” Bailey said. “They usually are conservative with their numbers every year when we do our budget.”
Governor Bill Lee and the legislature worked prior to the shutdown to make significant cuts to new fiscal year budget based on the possible ramifications of COVID-19. Bailey said that will be a help.
“I think that work was paramount to where we are today, hopefully with the adjustments that we made in March prior to recessing and coming back on June 1st will help us to only have to make some other adjustments to the budget,” Bailey said.
Bailey said the governor’s team has been working with state department heads to look at every part of the budget to find expenses to cut. He said he expects the number to be at least $500 million.
“I know they’ve been working with their departments as far as asking them to submit altered budgets,” Bailey said. “And nothing is escaping the chopping block.”
With so many stores and restaurants operating in limited fashion, if at all, during April, Bailey said sales tax revenue. He said he hopes that internet sales tax revenue will reduce some of the impact, but it remains to be seen.
While House members have been open about wanting to consider all types of bills on the legislative agenda, Bailey said senate leadership has made it clear it wants to focus on the budget and budget-related bills.
“They have several pieces of legislation that they would like to see passed and implemented in this year,” Bailey said. “However, the Senate’s posture’s been if they can wait until January of 2021, basically, what, six more months, especially in unprecedented times that we’re seeing today?”
Legislative committee meetings began this week. The legislature officially returns to Nashville Monday. Bailey said leaders have said they want to be done in about two weeks.