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A lawsuit filed August 26 by Republican State Auditor Tom Schweich charges Missouri’s Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon with violating the state constitution by withholding appropriations to state agencies, including education, to provide funds for natural disaster relief.
At issue is a constitutional provision giving the governor power to withhold appropriations from state agencies if revenues fall below the original estimates upon which the budget was based.
Gov. Nixon has based his withholding on the basis of needing the money in order to provide additional money for natural disaster relief involving damages from the Joplin tornado and flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.
On Aug. 19, Schweich had sent the governor a letter questioning Nixon’s constitutional authority to withhold funds. In the letter, Schweich charged the governor’s budget director failed to provide any data demonstrating there was an actual shortage in revenue collections.
Article IV, Section 27 provides that “The governor may…reduce expenditures of the state or any of its agencies below their appropriations whenever the actual revenues are less than the revenue estimates upon which the appropriations were based.”
Earlier this summer Nixon announced he would include the disaster relief funding in the legislature’s special session that begins Sept. 6.
But in his official call, issued after Schweich’s letter, Nixon dropped the natural disaster issue from his formal call. In a written statement, Nixon was quoted as saying they did not yet have a full estimate of the costs.