Gov. Nixon withholds hundreds of millions from state budget

Gov. Jay Nixon makes final changes to budget frustrating many lawmakers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Governor Jay Nixon said Friday he is restricting $400 million from the state's budget, three days before it goes into effect.

The $25 billion budget is for the fiscal year which starts July 1. The restrictions include more than $100 million from education, state workers won't be getting pay raises, and lay offs to 1,000 state workers.

Nixon is withholding the majority of the money because of the possibility of lawmakers overturning his veto of a broad-based tax cut bill. Nixon claims that bill would give income tax cuts to Missourians which would cause hundreds of millions of dollars of lost revenue.

The only chance of that the money would not be cut would be if lawmakers decide to not overturn Nixon's veto of the tax cut bill. Right now, nobody is sure what is going to happen when lawmakers are scheduled to discuss that in September. But many of them are extremely angry about the moves the governor made.

Nixon defended his cuts Friday, saying he will not balance the budget based on assumptions. What he's referring to is the uncertainty of whether lawmakers will overturn his veto of the tax cut bill or not.

Nixon claims the bill would cause an $800 million dollar loss in revenue each year. He said the bill is a dangerous fiscal experiment the state simply can't afford to test. That's why if it doesn't get overturned, he needs to have the budget prepared.

"We've applied these restrictions broadly while making every effort they do not unnecessarily impact our most vulnerable Missourians or the vital services in which they depend," Nixon said.

The governor's budget director says most of the $400 million in cuts came from areas that received increased funding from lawmakers or new programs. When asked if this was just a ploy to make sure lawmakers don't overturn the bill, officials claim they're just worried about balancing the budget.

"Make no mistake, these restrictions represent only a fraction of what would be required if House Bill 253 becomes law," Nixon said.

Many outraged lawmakers released statements Friday on the governor's restrictions. The Speaker of the House, Tim Jones, R-Eureka released this statement:

"The governor has clearly violated his constitutional authority by withholding funding in a year where we have a significant budget surplus. This is nothing more than a politically-motivated stunt that places Missouri families and children at risk by needlessly cutting critical education funding in an attempt to generate controversy over a common sense tax reduction bill for all Missourians. I am deeply disappointed that the governor would attempt to make Missourians his pawns in a game of political chess as he tries to force the hand of the legislature. The bottom line is that we sent the governor a balanced budget with record-high funding for education, despite his constant waffling and maneuvers to work against his own budget recommendations. If the governor takes the Missouri Constitution seriously, he should respect the budget-making authority of the legislature, put an end to this farce, and follow the fiscally-responsible spending plan we sent him,"

Senate Pro-Tem, Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles released this statement:

"I am disappointed to learn the governor is playing politics in his withholding of $400 million in appropriations that were to be used for education, capital improvements and vital state services.  There is absolutely no reason or need to withhold revenue.  To date net General Revenue is up 10.2 percent over last year which should net $350 to $400 million over the FY 2013 revised consensus revenue estimate for the current FY 2013 budget. These funds are rolled into FY 2014.

"Using the withholdings to prevent a possible veto override of House Bill 253, which would lower our tax burden, is overstepping and holds the people hostage with their own money. While I'm extremely disappointed in the governor's actions today, my intention in the Senate is to continue to work for what is best for Missourians regardless of politics."

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