July 22, 2014

Governor, lawmakers disagree on emergency $44-mil for K-12 education

Governor Jay Nixon (D) has issued a letter to members of the House Budget Committee regarding its vote to take $44.1-million in general revenue for K-12 funding out of the Fiscal Year 2014 supplemental budget.

Nixon says the budget for the current fiscal year overestimated the revenue available from riverboat gambling, lottery and other revenue that goes to the school foundation formula. That is why he requested $44.1-million in the supplemental budget to make up for the shortfall.

Nixon says the committee’s vote will leave schools short in the current fiscal year.

“Cutting $44.1 million from this year’s budget will leave our local schools with less money than was promised to them for the current school year,” Nixon writes to House Budget Committee members. “When this measure comes to the floor, I urge you to restore this $44.1 million to ensure that our schools receive the resources upon which their budgets are based and upon which they are depending.”

See Governor Nixon’s Letter to House Budget Committee Members

House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) says the projection that those revenues are going to come up short is just an estimate, and gaming officials have told his committee that the projections used to craft the Fiscal Year 2014 budget will be met.

Stream says the Governor is taking money out of the Fiscal Year 2015 budget where the legislature would normally put it, and putting it into the supplemental budget for 2014.

“I think our method is the right way to do it,” says Stream. “We’re basing our decisions on facts, not just estimates.”

Representative Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) is a member of the House Budget Committee and has responded to Nixon’s letter.

Kelly tells Nixon, “I am surprised that we are even discussing a supplemental bill because last year, for the third year in a row, your office told us that we would not need a supplemental budget for 2014. We asked specifically if you were sure of that and we were given assurances from your office no supplemental would be needed.”

See Representative Kelly’s letter to Governor Nixon

Kelly notes the budget committee last year based its appropriation of riverboat gaming proceeds on an estimate from the Nixon administration, and he concurs with Stream that the administration for riverboat gaming and lottery still says that estimate will be met.

Kelly says Nixon’s office was, “incorrect regarding its assertion regarding the need for a supplemental budget and was incorrect with regard to its estimate of available money. Given these facts,” Kelly continues, “I suggest that it is more reasonable for you to engage in rational conversation with House Budget Committee members instead of throwing incendiary press bombs from 10,000 feet.”

Kelly says he believes members of the Budget Committee would like to talk to the Governor and his staff about how to work out differences.