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Missouri legislative Republicans call Governor Nixon’s budget restrictions unnecessary

Less than a year after the passage of a state constitutional amendment aimed at stopping governors from unnecessarily withholding state funds from budgeted items, it appears that Governor Nixon is at it again.

In November 2014, by a 56 percent majority, Missouri voters passed Amendment 10. Amendment 10 provides the Missouri legislature a check on a governor’s power to withhold funds from state budget items in times of budget stability. Under the proposal, the legislature would be able to override a governor’s budget withholdings with a two thirds vote in both the state House and Senate. Associated Industries of Missouri backed the amendment ever since its early days as an idea in the state legislature, as AIM was the only business association testifying in favor of the proposed amendment at its earliest legislative hearings.

There’s no word if the legislature will try to override this latest withholding when it comes back into session in January, but according to this story from the Missourinet, it appears that at least some legislators feel Governor Nixon’s withholding may be unconstitutional under the new amendment.

From the Missourinet

Republican legislative budget leaders say they don’t know why Governor Nixon is blocking the spending of $46-million in the current budget. They tell Missourinet the state has more than six-times that in surplus.

Nixon says he’s going to block that spending – nearly $16.8-million of it for several health care provider rate increases – because a court ruling means Missouri likely won’t receive $50-million of tobacco settlement money this fiscal year that he and lawmakers both counted on.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer said budget restrictions are not necessary.

“Particularly because he’s still sitting on $325-million that was a surplus at the end of the last budget year, that we did not spend in this year’s budget,” said Schaefer.

House Budget Committee Vice-Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick said that would mean the restrictions announced Monday by Nixon aren’t constitutional.

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