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Ruling says state owes taxpayers $244 million

November 16, 2000
By: Aaron Cummins
State Capital Bureau

Missouri taxpayers would get nearly a quarter-billion dollars back from the state under a ruling handed down by a Cole County judge... but according to top state officials it won't come without a price.

This is Aaron Cummins for Missouri Capital Caucus.

The judge ruled the state has been miscalculating the amount of taxpayer money it can keep since 1995.

The ruling says that in the past five years the state kept about 244-million dollars too much.

Governor-elect Bob Holden says the ruling would make it more difficult for him to implement his proposed education and health care programs.

RunTime: 9
Contents: Holden says anytime you lose 200-million dollars from the budget it will affect things. But, he says, the state will have a plan for any possible outcome.

That decision will likely find its way to a higher court.

Scott Holste, a spokesman for the Attorney General, says the state will appeal the decision.

RunTime: 7
Contents: Holste say the Attorney General's office feels the judge ruled incorrectly and that they did not miscalculate Hancock refund amounts.

Holste says the Attorney General thinks the state gave the correct amount on its Hancock refunds.

If the ruling from the lower court stands it will cut deeply into Missouri's budget.

The quarter-billion dollars that would be returned to taxpayers is about 4 percent of Missouri's annual budget.

But, Missouri's top budget official Mark Ward says most of the budget is mandated for certain programs by either the federal or state government. That means the effects would be much greater than it would seem for only 4 percent of the budget.

RunTime: 12
Contents: Ward says the cut would come from a smaller portion of the budget. He says that would have a profound effect on state provided programs.

But, the victors in the case say taxpayers will only get back money they already should have.

They say they're happy with the outcome of the suit, but say it's unfortunate taxpayers had to go to court to get the money back.

In Jefferson City, I'm Aaron Cummins.