Lawmakers Push to Restrict Governor’s Power over Budget
February 4, 2014

(AP) – A Missouri House committee is considering legislation to curb the governor’s budget power.

A constitutional amendment proposed by House Republican Todd Richardson would let the Legislature override budget cuts enacted by the governor with a two-thirds vote. Currently, the governor can control the rate at which appropriations are spent and reduce spending when revenues are below the estimates upon which the budget is based.

The House General Laws Committee scheduled a hearing on the proposal Tuesday

There have budget disputes between Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and the Republican-controlled Legislature. Nixon froze $400 million in the current year’s budget while citing concerns that lawmakers would override his veto of a tax cut. The veto was sustained and much of those funds are released

Missouri State Revenue Up 10%, But Not Enough to Thaw Frozen Funds
July 4, 2013

(AP) – Missouri wrapped up its 2013 fiscal year with additional revenues, but that alone does not appear enough to thaw several hundred million dollars frozen in the current year’s budget.

On Wednesday, the state reported nearly $8.1 billion in general revenues during the 2013 fiscal year that ended Sunday. That was 10.1 percent higher compared with the 2012 budget year and greater than the 4.8 percent growth rate upon which the budget had been based.

Linda Luebbering, who is the budget director for Gov. Jay Nixon, said the cash balance is expected to be about $447 million. That is $339 million more than was expected but would be roughly half the balance in a normal year, she said.

Missouri’s individual income tax collections during 2013 increased 9 percent compared with 2012, while corporate income taxes were up 4.5 percent. Collections from sales taxes increased by 1.3 percent. Tax refunds declined 7.8 percent.

The budget news does not appear to affect the spending Nixon put on hold last week when he signed a nearly $25 billion operating budget for 2014. Nixon froze $400 million of spending for education, building repairs and state services because of concern that state legislators could override his veto of an income tax measure that he argues would drain state coffers.

Nixon vetoed the income tax cut approved by the Republican-led Legislature that would have phased in a tax deduction for business income over the next five years. It also would have gradually reduced the income tax rate for individuals and corporations over the next decade.

Luebbering said Wednesday the growth in Missouri’s revenues was considered before the budget action and that the income tax cut was the impetus.

“Until we have resolution on that, the restrictions will stay in place,” she said.

Licenses Bureau Cuts, ” They Need to Change What They’re Doing”, Says State Rep.
May 7, 2013

(AP) – Missouri budget negotiators pressed ahead Tuesday with retaliatory cuts for agencies caught up in a controversy involving driver’s licenses and concealed gun permits but rewarded public education institutions with millions of additional state dollars.

The give-and-take approach highlights a new political reality at the Missouri Capitol. Improved state revenues have created the potential for funding hikes, but the Republican supermajority in the Legislature has been increasingly forceful in objecting to the policies of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration.

The state constitution requires lawmakers to pass a budget by Friday.

This year, the budget process has been overshadowed by Republican anger about a new Department of Revenue policy requiring clerks to make electronic copies of personal documents such as birth certificates or concealed gun permits when people apply for Missouri driver’s licenses or identification cards. Nixon has since halted the copying of concealed gun permits but has continued accumulating copies of other documents in a state database that administrators say helps fight fraud.

Republican lawmakers contend the document copying is an invasion of privacy. They also have raised concerns that the Missouri State Highway Patrol provided a list of concealed gun permit holders to a fraud investigator in the U.S. Social Security Administration – even though the investigator never ultimately used the list.

On Tuesday, budget negotiators agreed to cut the budget for the Revenue Department’s motor vehicle division by one-third because of its new licensing procedures. Lawmakers said the money amounted to eight months of full funding, and the agency could get the rest if it has stopped copying and retaining documents when lawmakers re-convene next January.

The cut is intended “to put them on notice that they need to change what they were doing,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood.

Missouri Lawmakers Cut Driver’s License By a Third, Promise to Restore Money Later, if DOR Makes Changes
May 7, 2013

(AP) – Missouri budget negotiators have decided to press ahead with cuts for agencies caught up in a controversy involving driver’s license applicants and conceal gun permit holders.

A panel of House and Senate members agreed Tuesday to cut funding by one-third next year for the motor vehicle division in the Department of Revenue. The intent is to provide the rest of the money if the agency makes changes to its licensing procedures by next January.

Republican lawmakers are upset about new procedures in which license clerks are making electronic copies of applicants’ personal documents such as birth certificates. They also are upset that a list of concealed gun permit holders was shared by the Highway Patrol with a federal fraud investigator.

Missouri School May Get More Money, Lawmakers Still Working on Higher Ed
April 10, 2013

(AP) — Missouri schools appear likely to get a 2 percent funding increase next year as a result of a decision Tuesday by a Senate budget panel.

The Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to provide a $66 million increase sought by Gov. Jay Nixon to the $3 billion core budget for public elementary and secondary schools. The House had previously approved a $65 million increase.

The nearly identical figures are important because, under legislative rules, House and Senate members negotiating a final version of the state budget are generally prohibited from going below or above the dollar amounts included in each chamber’s budget plan. That means schools stand a good chance of getting the proposed funding increase.

Also, the Senate panel agreed to go with Nixon’s recommended $34 million funding increase for public colleges and universities. The money would be distributed according to whether the institutions met specific performance criteria in areas such as student retention and graduation. The result is that some colleges could get as much as a 5.4 percent increase while others could get as little as a 2.2 percent bump in state funds.

The House version of the budget included a $20 million funding increase for colleges and universities but would distribute it based equal percentages, not the new performance criteria.

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