Governor Jay Nixon has harshly criticized legislative budget makers for proposing the construction of a new state office building. Now those lawmakers are saying the Governor has changed his position on that plan.
House Bill 19, a supplemental spending bill for capital improvements, includes $38 million for the new building that would be built in the site of the decommissioned Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City. It would house the Department of Transportation and other state offices that budget makers say are in rented or leased space.
House Budget Director Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) says Nixon supported that plan privately before he opposed it publicly.
“I don’t talk to the Governor personally, of course, but with his director of the budget, Linda Luebbering. She twice came back and said the Governor is on board with the office building … if he had been opposed to it. If he had used language or she had used language that in any way, shape or form gave us the slightest inkling that he was not going to be in favor of it, we would not have included it in that bill.”
Stream and House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) say pulling those state offices out of leased space means that over time the state would save money in the deal, even paying off the building in 7 to 10 years.
Jones accuses Nixon of switching positions on this and another significant issue tied to the budget.
“Like what the Governor did to us on flipping on his support of the circuit breaker bill, I feel like I’m having Groundhog Day on House Bill 19 as well.”
Jones refers to SB 350, a proposal to repeal a tax credit for seniors in low-income housing. Nixon had built that into his budget proposal unveiled in January, but a few weeks ago announced he would veto it if it was not part of a larger tax credit reform proposal. The legislature passed the bill last week and Nixon has kept his promise, vetoing it yesterday.
Governor Nixon has not said what he will do with HB 19.