Greitens announces budget amidst affair-scandal

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JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens made his first public appearance in nearly two weeks since acknowledging an extramarital affair, announcing a budget plan that would slice at least $68 million from public colleges and universities - a 10 percent cut from what was appropriated for the 2018 fiscal year.

UM System spokesperson Christian Basi told KOMU 8 News the system understands the state's financial restraints and is watching the budget process closely; however, he stressed the budget is not set in stone. He said the budget recommendation does give the system an idea of different funding scenarios for which to plan. 

Greitens pitched the cut on Monday while outlining his roughly $28.8 billion budget recommendation for the fiscal year that begins in July. He's also asking for about $48 million less than what's called for under state law to fully fund K-12 public schools, though it is $87 million more than what was allocated for Elementary and Secondary Education funding in 2018.

During the budget proposal's unveiling, the Governor said his focus was on "making the tough choices that are necessary to make sure we don't burden Missouri's children with debt."

Greitens' largest pitches include a more than $11.6 million increase in child welfare spending, an additional $162.8 million in infrastructure funding, and more than $15 million in additional public safety funding. He recommended the additional child welfare spending be used on foster-care programs, while the infrastructure spending would be used on Missouri's bridges, ports and roads. The additional public safety funding would be used on programs ranging from substance-abuse programs to raises for members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

The Governor also requested the Department of Social Services find an additional $40 million in savings through Medicaid cost containment initiatives, according to the Governor's budget recommendation pamphlet.

"In our work, we protected every dollar and every cent we could," said the governor of his budget team. 

The budget recommendation news conference was also riddled with questions about the governor's affair. To read more about his response to those questions, click here.