It’s buried within one of the 13 bills that make up the state budget, but it hasn’t gone unnoticed. House Democrats aren’t happy about a move Republicans have made to the state’s Second Injury Fund. Republicans have pushed through a switch of funding in HB7 and HB12 that essentially moves the Second Injury Fund out of the Attorney General’s office and into the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The fund pays workers who suffer work-related injuries that aggravate existing disabilities.
House Minority Floor Leader, Rep. Jeff Harris (D-Columbia), accuses Republicans of making the move despite knowing the history of the fund’s abuse, what he calls the tawdry reign of William Webster as Attorney General of Missouri. Harris refers to the Second Injury Fund scandal that led to Webster’s downfall.
Rep. Nathan Cooper (R-Cape Girardeau) says he’s pushing the change to increase efficiency. He also expresses concern about how the present Attorney General, Jay Nixon, handles the fund. Cooper points out the Second Injury Fund has grown from $20 million in 1994 to $63 million today.
Democrats say politics motivates the move. They note that Nixon is the leading Democrat to challenge the re-election bid of Republican incumbent Governor Matt Blunt. Democrats say Republicans are doing whatever they can to damage Nixon politically.
It remains to be seen what the Senate will think of the change as the budget moves to the other chamber.