Governor Nixon says some state spending could be frozen for the new fiscal year. Bill Wise reports.
The governor expects to have to freeze some spending as the fiscal year begins. Bill Wise reports.
Governor Jay Nixon (D) says he expects to have to freeze the spending of tens of millions of dollars in the state budget for the year that begins Friday.
The governor will announce how much spending he’ll restrict, and in what state programs, July 6 after all the information he says he’ll need will be ready.
“We’ll wait ’till the sixth after we’ve seen the final numbers for the year. Some of the returns had to be late because of the flood and that sort of stuff. We’ll wait ’till the sixth to announce those initial restrictions,” Nixon told reporters.
Nixon said that’s better than in years when he’s needed to restrict hundreds of millions.
“Clearly the economy’s getting better and the numbers we’re dealing with here are smaller than other years than they’ve been in other years that I’ve been here – not to say that tens of millions is small but in a budget of almost $9-billion in General Revenue and almost $27-billion total, relatively small.”
Republican House Budget Committee vice-chairman Scott Fitzpatrick (Shell Knob) agrees it appears restrictions will be necessary. He said state tax refunds to date have increased by 15 percent compared to the same time last year, and revenue growth is off.
“As of today we’re up less than one-percent and we’re looking at growth of only about $76-million over last year, so it’s just not going to be adequate to fully the budget that was passed if that’s where we end up being – slower than anybody anticipated.”
Fitzpatrick hopes no restrictions are made in K-12 education funding, or in a Transportation Department cost-share program that was re-started this year.
“Communities have started applying for those funds and MODOT’s been accepting applications. There are projects that need to be done all over the state,” said Fitzpatrick.
The budget includes $20-million for that program.
Governor Jay Nixon (D) has taken action on 89 of 149 measures passed this year by the Missouri Legislature. He has until July 15th to veto or sign any remaining bills or let them become law without his action. Some of the key measures awaiting a decision include:
SB 590: would change Missouri’s sentencing laws for juveniles guilty of first-degree murder. The state’s sentencing laws are unconstitutional because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says two sentencing options must be available for juvenile murderers. The measure would allow either a 25-year or life without parole sentence for those under 18.
SB 607: would let the state hire a company to confirm that people getting Medicaid are actually eligible for it. The company the state hires would flag those it thinks aren’t eligible but the Department of Social Services would make final decisions.
HB 1631: would require the state to pay for a photo ID and supporting documentation, like a birth certificate, for anyone that doesn’t have a photo ID to vote. Those without photo ID could still vote if they sign a document and provide a utility bill or paycheck. Nixon could veto it but both chambers passed it with enough votes to overturn him.
A resolution passed by the Legislature will go to voters in November that would ask Missourians if an ID should be required to vote. The bill only takes effect if Missourians approve the resolution. The Secretary of State’s office certified the ballot language for that resolution Wednesday.
SB 588: would allow those convicted of certain crimes in Missouri to have their records sealed seven years after completing their sentence for a felony or three years for a misdemeanor. Dangerous felonies, violent crimes, domestic assault and sexual offenses would not be eligible. Under the measure, law enforcement and prosecutors still could get those records.
Governor Nixon is expected to decide soon on what he will do about the state legislature cutting money from the budget for Planned Parenthood. The final appointments have been made to a commission reviewing the University of Missouri system. Alisa Nelson reports.
How Governor Jay Nixon’s administration will respond to the state legislature cutting money for Planned Parenthood out of the state budget will be known in the next few days.
Nixon told reporters, “Obviously we’ve got to get that done between now and the end of the fiscal year so you’re going to hear from me very quickly about what we’re going to do there. We’re finally finishing up what we’re going to order and how it’s going to be executed.”
Republican budget leaders rejected 8.3-million federal Medicaid dollars, part of which must by federal law go to Planned Parenthood. That allowed the state to not send 380-thousand tax dollars to the 13 Planned Parenthood clinics in Missouri.
Nixon could be preparing to shift money within the budget to continue providing some to Planned Parenthood.
Republicans said many Missourians don’t want tax dollars going to agencies that perform abortions. Democrats said the move was a waste of tax money that will hurt healthcare offered at Planned Parenthood clinics.
The wife of investment firm founder and major conservative campaign backer Rex Sinquefield has been appointed to a commission that will review the University of Missouri System.
House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) appointed Jeanne Sinquefield as well as former MU System President Gary Forsee, Maryville University professor Pamela Washington, and Texas Tech Vice President for Strategic Research Initiatives Robert Duncan.
A statement from the House said Richardson, “looked for individuals who have a passion for seeing the University of Missouri system succeed, but who can also provide unbiased, objective feedback and criticism to help the system address some of the serious issues it has faced in recent years.”
“I am confident these are the right individuals to provide the kind of guidance and constructive criticism that university leadership can greatly benefit from as they look to create a stronger, more stable learning environment for all students,” said Richardson in the statement. “Combined with the appointments made by Senator Richard, I think we have the right team in place to take on the challenge of making our university system all that it can and should be.”
Richardson’s appointments round out the committee with those made by Senate President Ron Richard: Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging CEO and 2012 GOP gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence of St. Louis; Missouri Soybean Association District 4 director and Bredehoft Farms owner Neal Bredehoeft; partner at Williams, Dirks, Dameron law firm Michael Williams of Kansas City; and conservative talk show host Renee Hulshof, the wife of former congressman and 2008 GOP gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof.
The commission will meet in the coming months and submit to the General Assembly by December 31 a report with any recommended changes.
The commission was approved by the legislature and proposed by Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) as part of an effort to ease the attitudes of some lawmakers who wanted to make significant budget cuts to the University system in response to its handling of protests on the Columbia campus last fall over the racial climate at MU.
A state rep says he has had issues with the Conservation Department. Bill Wise reports.
A state lawmaker says some issues involving the Conservation Department have been frustrating. Bill Wise reports.
Governor Jay Nixon (D) has vetoed two litigation reform bills that were important to Republican legislative leaders and business groups.
The governor vetoed a bill that would change Missouri’s procedures for evaluating whether a person can be considered an expert witness in a trial to a federal standard. Nixon said the change would make it harder to use expert testimony.
“Make it more expensive for people who have been damaged and more difficult for people who have suffered damage, or businesses, to qualify experts and take power away from local circuit judges to make a determination in their courtroom who’s an expert and who’s not,” said Nixon. “That’s why we have judges – to make those determinations,” said Nixon.
Bill sponsor, Senator Mike Parson (R-Bolivar), doesn’t believe Nixon’s argument.
“That was just an excuse for the trial attorneys for that veto. That was a piece of legislation that needs to be done. I don’t think there’s anybody in the state that, when you put somebody on a witness stand and they claim to be experts, that you wouldn’t want it to be verified they’re experts,” said Parson.
Parson will seek an override attempt but the bill did not pass with enough votes in either chamber for one to succeed.
Another bill vetoed by Nixon would limit what juries can review in a trial to out-to mak-pocket expenses of insurance companies and victims and not the cost of medical treatments.