Governor Jay Nixon says the budget approved by the Missouri legislature is more than $50 million out of balance, and he took today what he says is the first step toward righting it.
The Governor announced about $15 million dollars in restrictions. The largest is a one percent across-the-board cut to the state’s higher education institutions totaling 8.48 million dollars.
Nixon cites three factors that he says throw the legislature’s budget off-balance: it counts on $35 million increase in lottery proceeds beyond the projections of the State Lottery Commission, it reduces funding for disaster recovery expenses by $11 million below projections, and three pieces of legislature that haven’t yet been acted on could reduce state revenue by $12.5 million.
Some lawmakers said the Governor’s office had agreed to the lottery projection used in the budget, but Nixon today called it a “rosy projection.”
The Governor said the proposed cuts to disaster funding come “at a time when the state must pay actual obligations and invoices for recovery efforts already performed in Joplin and other hard-hit areas.”
The three pieces of legislation Nixon refers to are Senate Bills 480 and 470, which contain provisions that would enact a new sales tax exemption totaling around $1.5 million, HB 1661 that would expand a small business tax deduction to additional businesses equaling about $6 million and HB 1504, that expands the number and types of businesses that can claim a tax refund, which represents about $5 million.
Nixon expressed hope that no additional cuts will be needed. “My sense is that we’re beginning to see the kind of turnaround that, if it continues, will continue to provide additional resources for the state. We’ve seen the unemployment rate tick down, we’ve seen continued investment in the state … and so we’ll watch it real closely.”
He said the legislature cut money from newborn screenings, early childhood education and disaster recovery and moved those funds to higher education, which he said was “not the right path forward for the state.”
Nixon also vetoed three programs. He says the passage of $80,000 for a Blues in Schools program circumvented the process that’s in place to select humanities grants and keep that selection fair and accountable. A $130,000 port financial assistance program lacked language identifying a specific port and so had to be vetoed on that technicality. He says Boone County is not statutorily authorized to be reimbursed civil commitment legal fees, which was a $30,000 item.