Governor Nixon proposes fewer state employees, fewer state holidays, fewer state vehicles… and fewer state departments. The state budget office says tax collections continue to run so far behind that the revenue estimate for the next fiscal year will have to be cut by $500,000,000.
That’s in addition to the $124,000,000 in cuts he authorized this morning and another $1.1-billion in cuts he and the legislature previously had made since he took office 14 months ago. In that time, 1,800 government positions have been eliminated.
Lawmakers have asked Governor Nixon to outline his plans to lower his own budget priorities. In Springfield this afternoon, Nixon says another one-thousand state workers will lose their jobs. He plans to sell two-thousand state vehicles. Unnecessary buildings will be sold.
Nixon proposes merging the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Higher Education into one education department.
He wants to consolidate the state Highway Patrol with the State Water Patrol, saving administrative costs while maintaining officer strength on the roads and waterways.
He wants to collapse several state environmental permitting offices within the natural resources department into one permitting office. Several Missouri counties will lose their Family Support Offices in favor of regional offices. He is calling for private companies to collect child support instead of having state employees do that.
Nixon also says it is time to rein in tax credits which have grown 86 percent in the last decade and now keep the state from collecting 585-million dollars a year. He wants to cap some credits and give the Economic Development department more discretion in the use of them. He also backs efforts to equalize state grants to college students so that private university students do not get more than public university students get.
He can do some of these things with executive orders but he says others will need the cooperation of the legislature, which returns next week after spring break to start reacting to Nixon’s plans.
AUDIO: Governor Nixon’s remarks 14 min MP3