Nixon Faces Harsh Legislative Blowback

8 years 6 months 1 day ago Thursday, August 25 2011 Aug 25, 2011 Thursday, August 25, 2011 4:24:00 AM CDT August 25, 2011 in News
By: Scott Kanowsky
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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has taken heavy fire this week for his decision to spend state funds on natural disaster relief without any clear approval of the General Assembly.

Nixon, a Democrat, has received criticism from both sides of the aisle when he announced an allocation of roughly $150 million to pay for initial relief efforts after a summer of severe weather and flooding hit the Show-Me State.

Last week, State Auditor Tom Schweich blasted Nixon's appropriation as "unconstitutional" because it was made without debate from the legislature.

By law, Nixon can make an estimated allocation those funds in emergency situations--but the Governor and aides say it will be some time before the actual amount of damage is known.

Lawmakers also have voiced worries that the state could face multiple years of relief payments--a fact which, some say, make debate in the legislature even more important.

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, agreed with Schweich's assessment of Nixon's spending.  And in a testimony to a special Senate Committee tasked with finding solutions to disaster relief, Schaefer urged lawmakers to gather more facts and figures before allocation.  He also alluded to Missouri's $27 million bill for the 1993 flooding--a figure that the state took roughly 10 years to pay off.

State Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, also railed publically against the Governor, calling the spending "driving a balance-of-power truck" through the legislature.

The Governor and his aides have stayed mum on the subject, choosing not to talk to KOMU and simply point to a statement released earlier.

A special session of the Missouri General Assembly starts on Sept. 6.  Nixon did not include debate on natural disaster relief but he can any time before special session begins.

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