A list of potential budget cuts has been delivered by the Nixon Administration to the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, but it might not be the list lawmakers have been waiting for.
Ever since Governor Nixon announced that state tax revenue has fallen so badly the legislature needed to cut half a billion dollars from the budget he proposed in January, lawmakers have asked the governor to either re-submit a budget or provide budget cuts he would back. The House Budget Committee was nearing completion of its budget work when the governor made his request. Still, the House approved $224 million in cuts from the governor’s budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee is now considering the 13 budget bills approved by the House which make up the $23 billion state budget for the fiscal year that begins July first.
A four-page document from State Budget Director Linda Luebbering seems to be the governor’s answer, but Luebbering denies the document she gave Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Rob Mayer lists cuts authorized by Nixon.
“That would have been various options that I was discussing with the senator,” Luebbering tells the Missourinet. “I’ve never delivered to him an approved list from the governor. It just simply hasn’t happened.”
In a follow-up e-mail, Luebbering stated that the list is based on a joint effort of her office working with the Senate Appropriations chairman and staff. “We both brought ideas forward. This does not represent any final list. It represents options based on those discussions. It should also be noted that just because items are not on this list does not mean that they won’t ultimately need to be reduced or eliminated,” Luebbering stated in the e-mail.
The list accepts the House position that basic public school funding should be frozen at current levels. It proposes to cut in half the money provided local school districts for transportation. Parents as Teachers would no longer be free to anyone, but could be restricted to the needy or be provided on a fee-basis. Career Ladder, which provides incentives for teachers who do extra work, would be eliminated in Fiscal Year 2011 at a savings of $37.5 million. The Access Missouri scholarship fund would be cut by $50 million.
Under the proposal, biodiesel incentives would be reduced to $10 million, the Large Animal Veterinarian Program would be eliminated, The Division of Tourism would suffer deeper cuts, the Nevada Habilitation Center would be closed, Medicaid providers would be cut and 1,000 state jobs would be eliminated.
The non-list, list frustrates Mayer who says it would be appropriate for the governor to go public with a list of budget cuts he authorize.
“And we still believe that it is appropriate for the governor to come forth publicly with his proposed $500 million worth of cuts,” Mayer tells the Missourinet. “And as of this date, he has not provided that list.”