The state House will take up this week a proposed budget that aims to see some Missouri commissioners less often, on the go.
The state auditor’s office said in January that the Departments of Conservation and Transportation spent about $376,000 over two years to fly their respective commissioners around the state. It estimated the state could have saved $294,000 by paying mileage reimbursement to those commissioners instead.
Language proposed by Representative Genise Montecillo (D-St. Louis) has been added to the budget to bar general revenue from going to in-state air travel for those commissioners.
“I do not believe there’s any legitimate reason whatsoever that MODOT commissioners or Conservation commissioners should be traveling air within the state,” Montecillo told Missourinet. “If they have out-of-state travel that’s obviously a different issue, but when I have a commissioner of MODOT telling me he can’t drive more than an hour-and-a-half or so, it’s not worth his time, that’s problematic for me.”
Montecillo is also critical of the governor’s travel and proposes cutting his budget by $74,000. She said Governor Jay Nixon (D) traveled to St. Louis on Thanksgiving Day with family and paid for it out of the Department of Public Safety’s budget, yet St. Louis area elected officials said Nixon was not available to them even during the unrest in the region after the Darren Wilson grand jury decision.
The Governor’s office says he did attend a public safety meeting and had dinner with National Guard soldiers that night, photos of which were shared on the governor’s official Twitter account.
Montecillo acknowledges Nixon needs to travel but says she doesn’t believe he needs an increase to his travel budget this year, and says he budget committee often gets incomplete or misleading answers when asking Nixon administration agency leaders about travel expenses.
“We are facing revenue shortfalls in education, social services. Programs that are dear to me are being cut or underfunded. We need to be very wise and good stewards of our taxpayers’ dollars,” said Montecillo.
The House budget proposal will be debated beginning tomorrow. Leadership hopes to send it to the Senate by the end of the legislative work week, Thursday.