The House Budget Committee Chairman accuses Governor Jay Nixon of “political grandstanding” in saying the legislature’s budget wasn’t balanced and withholding $15 million from it.
Representative Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) says the Governor’s assessment that the proposed budget was $50 million out of balance is simply not true. “We appropriated about $56 million less than he asked us to, so if we’re $50 million out now that means he was over $100 million out when he asked for it. Beyond that, we left about $7 million in the bank compared to his, like, $50 thousand I think, that he recommended we leave in the bank, so we way under-spent what he asked us to.”
Nixon says the legislature used a “rosy projection” that lottery revenues would grow by $35 million this year. Silvey says the Governor’s Office backed using that estimate when talking with legislative budget committee members. “We were a little skeptical of it initially too, but they told us it was attainable, the lottery told us it was attainable, and rather than tell us back then when we could have done something to address it, he waits for (the legislature) to go home and then uses it as an excuse to cut schools.”
Silvey suggests the Governor has a similar motivation for saying the legislature shouldn’t have cut $11 million dollars from the disaster recovery funds. “It’s political for him to point to that because we talked to them because we talked to (the governor’s staff) ahead of time about cutting this $11 million.”
Silvey says after talking to the governor’s staff, that was one line in the budget where lawmakers restored the “E,” or estimated amount, while most others were removed. He said the budget conference committee didn’t think additional money would be needed, “but just in case we gave them the “E.” That was fine back then when we were in session … but then, when he wants to find a reason to cut (higher) education, he goes out and throws that one under the bus too.”
As he said about the withholds Governor Nixon made in the fiscal year 2012 budget, Silvey now says of the fiscal year 2013 withholds that the governor’s reasons for making them do not fit the criteria of the Constitution. “Here we are, a week to go in (fiscal year 2012), and if I’m not mistaken, I think we’re meeting the projection. So he was over-withholding well beyond what it would take even if we didn’t meet the projection and I think that’s ultimately why he got sued by the (State Auditor).”