Missouri Gov. Nixon freezes spending items after Legislature overrides his line-item vetoes

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JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon blocked millions of dollars of spending Friday for dozens of programs and initiatives that were authorized just days earlier when legislators overrode the governor's line-item budget vetoes.

His action means no additional money will be flowing to services for child abuse and rape victims, school safety grants and energy assistance programs for low-income residents, despite the Legislature's vote earlier this week to override 47 of Nixon's line-item budget vetoes. Nixon blocked a total of $54 million of spending Friday, covering all of the items he originally had vetoed.

But he coupled the bad news for some programs with good news for others by releasing $22 million that he had frozen when the state budget took effect July 1. About half of the newly freed funding is for state aid for counties. But the total also includes $4 million for economic development programs and $2 million to improve a Missouri River levee protecting a St. Joseph airport that is used by the National Guard.

State cybersecurity efforts also will get $2 million of previously frozen funding. More than $1 million each will be released to health care centers and autism services.

The Missouri Constitution allows governors to restrict spending approved in the budget to keep it in balance.

Nixon said he was releasing the $22 million because lawmakers had sustained his vetoes of tax-break bills that he feared could have busted a hole in the budget.

But the governor said he was restricting the $54 million to prevent the growth of government and ensure a balanced budget. Missouri finished its 2014 budget year in June with an unanticipated decline in revenues. That meant the state started the current budget from a lower financial point than had been expected.

During the veto-override session, lawmakers criticized Nixon for poorly prioritizing which budget items he chose to block and which ones he has allowed to go forward as he manages the state's finances.


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