JEFFERSON CITY - State agencies and Gov. Nixon would no longer be able to spend money outside the normal budget process if a top budget official is successful in eliminating the General Assembly's practice of granting that power.
Budget Chair Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, has said he plans on eliminating the General Assembly's practice of placing a "1E" on specific budget line items, which allows the governor and other state agencies to spend an unspecified amount of money on particular budget lines.
"It is unlikely there will be '1E' anywhere in this state's budget," Silvey said.
Nixon's witheld of $150 million from last year's budget to pay for disaster relief in Joplin and flooded areas of Missouri has spurred the change. In the 2012 budget, the General Assembly granted the governor a "1E" for disaster relief, which he used to justify his witholds from other parts of the state budget after the disasters occurred.
Many including Republican Auditor Tom Schweich have challenged Nixon's use of budget witholds (allowed by the Constitution when revenue falls below its projected amount) and the legislature's ability to delegate General Revenue approprations to the executive branch. Schweich has filed a pending lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court against Nixon on the issue
The practice of using the "1E" began as a means for state agencies to spend money from the federal government acquired after Missouri's fiscal year starts on July 1. Since the federal government's fiscal year begins after Missouri's, the "1E" allowed the agencies to spend money without calling the General Assembly back into session.
The "1E" character, however, has grown in use to include funds paid for by General Revenue, which according to the Missouri Constitution can only be appropriated by the General Assembly.
State Budget Director Linda Luebbering said she had some major concerns regarding Silvey's plan to eliminate the "1E" from the state budget. Her top concern focused on disaster relief, the same topic that has led to the proposed change.
"If that "1E" goes away and they don't put a very large number to replace it, we would be in jeopardy of not having the budgetary authority to do what we need to do to help communities recover," Luebbering said.
To replace the budget flexibility, Silvey said the legislature will take a "reasonable approach" in estimating the expenses for those particular funds. He added that removing the "1E" is necessary given Nixon's previous budget practices.
"Giving this governor flexibility has led to abuses," Silvey said.
The change comes as Missouri prepares to tackle as estimated budget shortfall of an estimated $500 million. The Governor will release his budgets recommendations on January 17.