The House Interim Committee on Budget Transparency says Governor Nixon should have asked the legislature for money out of the budget for disasters, rather than withholding it from programs on his own.
The House Interim Committee on Budget Transparency had an hour’s worth of questions for the State Budget Director. Committee Chair Ryan Silvey questioned the constitutionality of Governor Nixon’s withholding. Nixon has withheld 150 million from the budget to pay for Joplin, and Budget Director Linda Luebbering says that’s justified. Silvey says it’s illegal.
Silvey says the constitution only allows the Governor to withhold money when there isn’t enough revenue to fund the budget. Luebbering says because the state knows it will have to help with disaster recovery, it should start holding back money now.
Luebbering says previous court cases have allowed Governors to withhold money for unforseen circumstances. She couldn’t name any in specific, but says her office could provide the committee with a list of them.
The State Auditor has also called the Governor’s withholdings unconstitutional.
Committee Member and House Budget Committee member Chris Kelly also took issue with the flexibility in the budget this year.
Kelly says for the next two years the legislature will be repairing the damage done to the budget. He called Nixon’s withholdings a “truck” driven through the budget. He says if it were up to him, there would be no discretion for the Governor to take money from other agencies. He says education and corrections have been hit hardest from these withholdings. He says it’s up to the legislature to write the budget so the Governor can’t take money from it the way he did this year.
Committee members agree that disaster recovery should be funded, but money should not be withheld until estimates for recovery cost come in.