April 21,2020 | TRIADVOCATES
April 21, 2020
Legislature to adjourn, looking toward special session this summer
The Legislature plans to reconvene on Friday, May 1 to adjourn sine die and will not consider any of the pending legislation. This ends a six-week legislative hiatus and will effectively kill the remaining 600+ bills left in queue when the House and Senate recessed due to COVID-19. Assuming the governor’s stay-at-home order is lifted on April 30, legislative leaders are coordinating a plan to safely bring back at least 31 representatives and 16 senators to physically vote for the ceremonial motion to sine die—the rest can use the electronic voting system if they so choose.
Given the current economic uncertainties and dire revenue predictions, legislative leaders decided to pull the plug on this session and are instead looking to convene a special session later this summer to address the state’s budget shortfall and other “stimulus” issues. A couple weeks ago, state budget gurus projected a $1.1 billion deficit by the end of FY 2021, assuming a shortfall of $638 million in FY 2020 and $462 million in FY 2021. However, those projections came with quite the caveat—they could be off by $500 million in either direction. Policymakers won’t have more concrete revenue data until after the state income tax filing deadline in July, so calling for a special session later in the summer would give them time to reassess. Options on the table include the following: (1) rolling over the FY 2020 shortfall into FY 2021, (2) using the “rainy day” fund, (3) using federal stimulus dollars to offset, (4) making fund transfers, and (5) making cuts to agency budgets.
It remains unclear what other issues, if any, they may bring up when they reconvene. Also uncertain is whether there will be more than one special session between now and the end of the year. In the meantime, the Governor’s Office is open to all ideas that might help jump-start the economy. If you have suggestions for economic recovery, let us know and we’ll pass them along for consideration—or you can submit them directly to the task force at firstname.lastname@example.org.