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July 11, 2013 Volume 34, No. 33

Governor restricts $400 million from budget


Gov. Jay Nixon announced June 28 that he would restrict $400 million of the state’s new budget due to his vetoing that month a tax cut bill he claims would significantly harm allocations, including to higher education.

Nixon is withholding 4 percent of the general operating appropriation for the University of Missouri System, said John Fougere, the system’s chief communications director. The governor did not withhold funding for financial aid programs. But he has held back the $10 million earmarked to expand the MU School of Medicine in Springfield, Mo., and $1 million to MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Fougere said.

House Bill 253 is a complex package introduced last January that includes cuts to personal income and corporate income tax. Nixon has said the reductions to state revenue would substantially limit appropriations to state services, colleges and universities for fiscal 2014. State revenue would drop by about $800 million, according to Nixon. 

On June 14, UM System President Tim Wolfe told the Board of Curators that, if the bill became law, the decrease in state funding to the four campuses could mean tuition increases, layoffs, decreased wages and enrollment caps. 

Supporters of the Republican-sponsored bill say the tax cuts would grow Missouri’s economy. In a statement following Nixon’s witholding announcement, Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) characterized the governor’s move as “overstepping” and holding Missourians “hostage with their own money.”

Republicans may attempt to override Nixon’s veto during the annual veto session Sept. 11. To do so, both chambers would have to pass a motion by at least a two-thirds majority. Although the Senate passed the tax cut bill by a wide margin early this year, it did not pass in the House by the required 109 votes that would be needed for a veto override in September.

In other legislative news, Nixon on July 2 signed House Bill 542 into law. The legislation gives MU Extension county councils the option to work with one or more other councils to form extension districts. The district option could help counties increase efficiencies and reduce costs by working together.