Republicans Assail Nixon Disaster Spending

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JEFFERSON CITY - At a Senate committee hearing Tuesday, republicans urged the Governor to halt spending on disaster recovery until he can get legislative approval.

Governor Nixon recently decided to withhold more than $170 million from the budget to finance disaster spending. The auditor's office claims the withholding is unconstitutional.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, a member on the Interim Committee on Natural Disaster Response, said Governor Nixon does not need to rush spending.

"We don't want to be a hindrance, the state should never be a hindrance when it comes to spending for natural disasters," said Schaefer." So is there anything out there that can't go through the normal appropriation process? Otherwise we are going to have some increased level of harm or risk."

Schaefer said there are no natural disaster fees due to FEMA before fiscal year 2013. He also stressed that some bills need to be paid immediately.

KOMU 8 contacted the governor's office Tuesday but a spokesperson refused to answer questions. Instead, spokesman Scott Holste issued the following statement referring to a recent audit report.

The statement reads, "The Governor has the constitutional responsibility and authority to cut spending to balance the budget, a power used by Governors over the years and consistenly upheld by the courts. The auditor's letter is wrong."

Schaefer said there is ample time to discuss using Rainy Day funds when legislators return for session in January. The Rainy Day funds are used to finance emergency situations.

Committee members also complained FEMA wasted money while providing aid in Joplin. For example, Senators claim it usually costs around $75 per hour to hire transport trucks. Lawmakers said FEMA paid truck companies closer to $100 per hour, and paid for the trucks around the clock, as opposed to jsut when they are on the road.

Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, called it "foolish spending", that Missouri should not have to pay for.