Saturday, August 20, 2011

Schweich sharply critical of budget withholdings for disasters

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - A new report from the Missouri state auditor says Gov. Jay Nixon did not follow the Missouri Constitution when he withheld $170 million from the current budget to help fund disaster relief.

Auditor Tom Schweich says withholdings can only be made if actual revenues come in below what’s estimated. That wasn’t possible in this case because the fiscal year hadn’t even started.

Schweich also said his office was "startled" by the fact that Nixon’s office could not demonstrate how it reached the 170 million number.

"We would have expected spreadsheets, estimates, projections, comparative scenarios of possible revenue," Schweich says. "We would have expected the typical things any auditor would expect."

Schweich says the governor should have worked with lawmakers instead of taking unilateral action.

"There’s a supplemental budget coming up, there are future fiscal years coming up, those budgets can account for Joplin," Schweich says. "And also there’s a rainy day fund with $500 million in it that’s never one time been tapped for disasters. Now if there was ever a rainy day, it’s what happened in Joplin."

In a statement, Nixon spokesman Scott Holste called the auditor’s letter “wrong,” and said the withholdings are a further example of Nixon’s fiscal responsibility.

Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio


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