Last week, state leaders announced that the 2020 legislative session would be delayed until further notice due to the massive breakout of COVID-19.
Nevertheless, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn has been staying busier than ever.
“I’m just as busy now if not more so as I am during the session,” Gunn said. “We have been working every day—me and my staff—trying to assist people with filing unemployment claims, getting the answers to the questions they have, and trying to put them in touch with the right people.”
The novel coronavirus has spurred the largest unemployment surge the nation has seen since the Great Depression with 17.1 million unemployment claims as of last Thursday. That number is expected to balloon with tomorrow’s weekly report from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Regarding Mississippi’s current financial situation and the future reopening of the economy, Gunn commended the state for being as monetarily prepared as possible.
“I believe we were in the best financial shape this state has ever been in,” Gunn said.
According to Gunn, Mississippi was $200 million over the revenue estimate for this point in the fiscal year. However, the state’s improved financial situation may not be enough as the peak of the virus has yet to come.
“April, May, and June are going to be tough months, and that $200 million is probably going to evaporate, and we may end up having to go into the rainy-day fund,” Gunn said. “The stimulus money is going to help, but I remind people all the time—that’s one-time money.”
Gunn said there’s no current timeline on when the legislature will reconvene, yet he hopes for mid-May.